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Who Needs a Valentine? ---- LOVE YOURSELF

Hey friends! Carlee here from Youth Voices Matter-NY.

Happy Stupid-Make-Believe-Not-A-Real-Holiday Day! I’m not super bitter about February 14th but I do have some issues with it. Giant stuffed animals with heart eyes and chocolates the size of my body just don’t seem authentic to me. Call me crazy, but I’m not a huge fan of this type of “affection.” Plus the added stress of being single during this “Hallmark holiday” can really be bothersome.

Even though I’m currently in a relationship, I still think it’s important to FIRST love YOURSELF - not just on Valentine’s Day, but EVERYDAY. I’ll be honest, some days I struggle with this. It’s okay to struggle with loving yourself and it’s TOTALLY NORMAL! However, it is important to remember that nothing and no one should EVER come before you.

Long before I started dating my current boyfriend, I was obsessed with finding “the one.” I was so discontent with being single and I just wanted to be in a relationship. I was chasing it just like how I used to chase drugs and alcohol. I realized that I wasn’t actually chasing the “perfect guy”, I was running from myself. I was lacking the confidence that I finally have today and I was looking for someone else to fill that void. This was extremely unhealthy for me.

THANK GOD FOR SINGLENESS. It wasn’t until I noticed this problem that I was able to address it with a solution. I decided that the right person will come when it’s time. I have to be ready for him and he has to be ready for me. I was able to spend my time doing things that I wouldn’t have time for in a relationship. I started painting again, writing, scrap-booking, shopping, and just spending quality time with myself. Self-care is EXTREMELY important (that will be the topic of a different blog.)

Overall, I am grateful for the time that I was single. It molded me into the person I am today. It also allowed me to be the girlfriend I am today. The self-awareness that I possess as a result of being single has been a huge asset in my current relationship. And now, when I’m not with my boyfriend, I CHEERISH my alone time. (Before I was running from it.)

In closing, Valentine’s Day can be tricky. For those who are single, don’t let the pressures of this holiday bring you down. Remember to treat yourself and know that the right person is on their way to you. For those in relationships, show love and affection to your partner every day. Don’t rely on a holiday that comes once a year to remind you to treat him or her special.

And to EVERYONE out there, I hope you have a wonderful February 14th and an even greater February 15th! (Because let’s be honest, the real holiday is when candy is on sale the day after.)

Much love everyone!

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What is the “VOICE” in Youth Voices Matter

Hey everyone! Carlee here from Youth Voices Matter-NY. I wanted to talk a little bit about what the “voice” means in Youth Voices Matter.

We’ve all felt “voiceless” at one point or another. We’ve all been in situations where we felt like there was nothing we could do to help ourselves. This is especially true for youth and young adults struggling with life’s challenges. For me, being voiceless was most apparent during my struggle with substance use. I was unable to use my voice to create positive changes in my life. The disease of addiction silenced me. I was unable to advocate for what I needed or talk about the real issues plaguing my life.

Now that I’m three years and ten months clean, I have found my voice. Most importantly, I use it. I speak up about what recovery really is and how great my life has become. Don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days. But, by having the ability to use my voice and find confidence in myself, I can make it through life’s challenges. One of the biggest examples of how I use my voice is by trying to get rid of the stigma around substance use disorder. Having this disease is nothing to be ashamed about. There is help out there and recovery is possible. In addition to that, I advocate on behalf of youth and young adults across the state. I have dedicated my work and life to empower others to find and use their voices too.

So what does your voice sound like? Or rather, what is it saying? Are you in a state of voiceless-ness? Do you need help finding your voice? Youth Voices Matter-NY is dedicated to amplifying the voices of individuals across New York State. We can help you find your voice and make real changes in your community. Whether it’s hosting a fun pop-up event or having a discussion about some of the unmet needs in your area, YVM-NY wants to hear from you!

Use your voice. Speak up and speak out! 

This is Carlee   #ReadMeRoar    #PumpUpYourVoices