|| T W E N T Y - F O U R T E E N ||

2014 was the year I grew up.


Not when I turned eighteen, nineteen, twenty, or even twenty-one.

2014 was when it happened, an entire year of growing up and growing in.

Growing up and realizing that staying silent and not expressing what I wanted, was any way to live.

Growing up and understanding that when that expression does come, it is not a bad thing to speak the novels that's been resting on your tongue for so long. It doesn’t make me needy or aggressive it makes me human.

Growing into this skin, this body and being able to call it home, like I should have a long time ago.

Growing up and out of heartbreak and into a flourishing season of loving the way life looks when I don’t have emotional baggage going with me into every relationship.

 Growing up and embracing every part of me, especially the unmistakable desire to create and make beautiful things.

 Yes, 2014 was about growing up and growing in.

I feel like up until this point…I was watching my own life as if it were someone else’s. As if up until this year I was just waiting and waiting until it was my turn to enter, my turn to show up.

2014 was the year that I had to shed a lot of myself.

Shed the insecurities, the doubts, the fears and the uncertainties. I had to embrace growth and challenges and believe that deep down they would shatter me for the better. 2014 was the year where life moved more like a whirlwind storm of chaos than day-to-day. A lot of it didn’t turn out at all how I had expected but looking back at it now…it was so very good.


Every year since I’ve been in college whenever a birthday rolls around…I give my year a theme. The theme for twenty-three is the year of boldly daring. I’m not really sure why I give myself these themes, it’s not as if I plan them accordingly and match everything I do in life for that year with my theme but somehow…it always ends up unraveling that way.

The past three months into my boldly daring theme, I made a new friend who’s killer at photography, has a speedy red mustang with sass to match and a heart for adventure. I don’t think we’ve gone to the same coffee shop once yet since we’ve been friends, we’ve chased rain clouds up winding mountain roads, created our own little social media space for women like us and some not at all, we’ve met other creative, inspiring women and have both flourished in what we call our art.

I have applied to a plethora of what-can-I-get-my-hands-on-next type of jobs, internships and opportunities. Attended two women’s conferences where I had the opportunity to share my heart and love for words for the first time in that setting.

I have said yes to opportunities and thought about them after which has left me in states of overwhelming panic at times but mostly just a lot of I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST GOT TO DO THAT-HOW COOL. 

Instead of being in an leadership opportunity on campus, interning at Fellowship has been the most refreshing, life-giving opportunity that I almost said no to (sorry Brittany). The staff at that church of dreamers knows how to pour into young adults trying to figure out who they are, who God is to them and what they’re called to do. It is yet another answer to my mother’s freshman year prayer over me, that I would find family outside of blood connection and it is the biggest blessing I could have asked for.

2014 was also the year of unexpected blessings.

I suppose every year has its own unexpected blessings but 2014 specifically threw me for a loop. God placed different paths before me and it seemed that shortly after choosing the one that seemed “right”, numerous other doors and windows opened in return. It was baffling, humbling and so exciting.

2014 was also the year my heart had it bad. I felt a lot of loss, a lot of pain and a  lot of when is it my turn to get chosen? Every pursuit of a relationship ended up in tears, a glass of wine, a lot of poems and even more prayers consisting of "Lord, just please don't bring me any more people I could crush on." Every swipe of another engagement left me feeling like there was a whole world forming that I was not apart of. But it's also because of this tender spot in my heart that 2014 became the year I decided, I would not be a heartbreak writer. No, I would not base my creativity off of pain once felt and keep recycling it over and over. I decided instead that heartbreak poems are necessary for a season but then afterwards you tuck them away and leave them behind you where they belong so that you can move forward. Every year has its dose and dash of heartbreak. It'll leave you flustered, maybe a little bitter and wondering what was wrong with you. But in all honesty heartbreaks have been some of my greatest lessons. They've shown me who I am in the midst of moments where it really hurts, they remind me what it is I deserve and most importantly they whisper, "Not yet darling, it's not your time yet. Let's keep that heart safe for now shall we?"

Two weddings. New friends. Becoming an Author. Booming opportunities.

Freshly rooted friendships. Coffee, so much coffee. Lots && lots of poetry.

Goodness this year, has left me sick (literally) probably from living off of pure adrenaline for the past couple months, exhausted but straight up giddy, excited and overwhelmed for how it is setting up 2015 to look awfully bright.

I know I already have my year twenty-three theme but I know that 2015 will be the year of doing things. Doing all the things. Raising money for Texas to speak for a conference, even more coffee shops, road trips because I really want to, a sleepover on the beach to watch the sunset over waves, more poetry (please Lord so much more poetry), graduation, much-needed graduation and adventure. Doing things and taking risks. Yeah, that’s my prayer for 2015. That I will continue to grow up and in. That the challenging and the stretching will not cease but continue to mold me into whoever Arielle Estoria Leda Wilburn is supposed to be.

I don't know what you're year was like, what you experienced or who you became. Perhaps you too grew up and in or maybe you grew out a little. Maybe you learned to embrace yourself or someone. Maybe trickled in this year you had a long night or two, a handful of tears and journal pages filled with mistakes, things not said and beautiful memories.

Whatever this year entailed, remember that none of this defines you. None of this will hinder 2015 from wrecking you, holding you, surprising you or showing you what you're capable of.

Each year we get this little gift of newness handed to us and inside holds whatever it is we put there. More or less heartbreak, more adventure, conversation that sets something inside of us on fire, more risks, more coffee, more inspiration tucked in the most random of places and even more of Jesus, who he is and what he is doing.

This is not a "new year, new me" declaration.

Because that statement is exhaustingly dense... most likely you're going to be the same you at 11:59pm as you will be at 12:00am. The only difference is maybe you'll say yes to more, embrace the idea of risks and step outside your comfort zones. You will say, this year will be different, for whatever reason it is that you choose.

2015 is my year for doing things. Doing things that scare me and don't seem realistic but I'll keep dreaming about them if I don't. It'll be a mix of boldly daring and letting this inner lioness roar a little bit more. Maybe 2015 will be your year, your year to remember the potential laced inside of you to take this world and turn it inside out if you wanted to. To be the peace, reconciliation and traces of hope that this world desperately needs. Maybe God will open more doors, close more windows and continue to show you that He is faithful and He is constant. He will without a doubt continue to mold and shape you into the wonderful human being he has created you to be.

Someone once told me,

"Remember who you used to be, be proud of what you've done and who you were

but don't go back there... you can't go back there

because who you are becoming and who you will be is so much greater."

That is my reminder to you...that and that I believe in you, if that counts for anything. We may have never met, perhaps we've only walked by each other or shared a glance but despite what minor details rest between us, my closing twenty-fourteen reminder is just that, I believe in you, every part of you.

You are loved and you are enough.

That reigns true this year, the year before, the one that's coming and forever forward.

You are glitter & gold my friend. Glitter & freaking Gold. Let twenty-fifteen see some of that sparkle.



First && last photo credit: Karen Hernandez