I've been here since '07 when I was 19 years of age. I didn't really start participating until I was 20, and I have found now that 22 seems to be the biggest progress I have had. It also seems odd to me.
I've looked back at my posts from 20-21 year old me, and I looked back at the 21-22 year old me. I have to say that the latter is much more real about the problems. It also seems to me that this newer version of me seems to be better at handling problems and such... apparently, is really good at giving advice too. The realizations I have had in the latter part of 2010 have really blown me out of the water.
First off for you who don't know me, I'm a person who dwells in the chat most of the time. I prefer this method because it's as real-time as we can get for advice. I usually use the forums when I don't feel like talking about certain issues in real-time (and those are the ones that I should be talking about in chat).
I have learned in 2010, that I do not have to live in shame anymore. My best friend pointed out that I let the bad emotions get to me the most. All the negatives about who I am do not matter. I no longer think of myself as a loner, broken, unwanted, etc. Rationally, I knew they weren't right, but my emotions and feelings told me otherwise.
I have also learned to appreciate how men of this site see me. I use the chat quite a bit, and there are individuals on there who I owe a debt of gratitude. They saw me in a different light then what I saw myself in the past three years. I also owe individuals of the forums the same debt. So if you are one of these men, thank you. I am learning to see what you saw, and I am accepting it.
With this new sense of self, I have also began to connect to my emotions in a bigger and better way. I have (for some of the first times in my life) felt that it was okay to feel what I feel, to say what I want to say, and to express that what I want to express. I finally have a voice to use that is mine and mine alone. I thank once again, the strong, courageous, and brave men on this site for showing me the way.
I find that it is okay to let the old guards down and to show people what it means to be me. In doing so in 2010, I have felt (actually FELT and CONNECT to others) loved and cared for.... for just being me. It has been overwhelming at times, but each day, I get stronger. My family (which includes everyone here) has been a big part in that process. As a result, I have shared and shared and shared.
I hope that 2011 sees fit to allow me to keep on this path, but I needed to express my gratitude and progress that this site has given me.
And if you will,