I said "No" to a man in a coffee shop that asked me out yesterday. I politely said, "Oh, thank you for asking but I'm not interested" then I calmly walked away with no guilt, and got about halfway down the street buzzing with shock before I stopped and thought....holy moses. This is a big effing deal for me to have said no to somebody's face so directly and confidently. I spent most of my 20's believing that as a big girl, I had to lower my standards to get a date or receive love. I would legit look at people and categorize them based on how I felt and assumed other people felt about me - "he's too handsome for me" "he'd never like a chubby girl" "successful men will want a beautiful woman...not me" "nobody will date you because you're fat, so if someone shows interest, you should take what you can get." Can we just stop for a moment and process how awful and damaging those thought patterns are?! Believing that my body type meant that I wasn't allowed to have standards and had to settle for whoever happened to be interested in me was perhaps the most damaging thought pattern of my 20's. But it's not just related to dating - it was a complete lack of self worth based on negative messages I believed about my body that impacted every area of my life, because if my body meant that I wasn't worthy of love, then it meant I didn't think I was worthy of respect, from myself or anyone else. I spent so much time trying to be nice and fill other people's needs so they'd love me because I DIDN'T LOVE MYSELF. In the past, when approached by a man, I may have mumbled sure and handed over my number just to avoid a conflict or the guilt of saying no to someone. Maybe I would have convinced myself that you shouldn't pass up chances like that because it may not come around again. But the fact is, I know my worth now. I know my needs. I know what I'm worthy of, I'm allowed to have standards and I'm absolutely allowed to say No - to anything, to everything that isn't a fit for me - without guilt and without feeling like a jerk. I can say NO to negative thought patterns. I can say NO to societal standards of beauty and define beauty for myself with confidence. I can say NO to people who make me believe that I am not worthy of love, fun, giggles, and grace because of my body. I can say NO to men who are not kind or who I simply don't want to go out with because of a gut feeling. And all of those nope's leaves room for a big fat fucking YES. Yes to self love. Yes to my body. Yes to opportunities and to believing that I am worth it. Yes to patience, and the daily choice to fight for myself and for others. Yes to worthiness. Yes to vulnerability and community and a big YES to all of you.