Project 25, No. 25: On accepting who you are

I took the day off yesterday to do all the things I normally wouldn’t do on a Monday: took a dance class with my hair down, did some Pilates in the middle of the afternoon, lined up for Tartine by myself.

And at the bakery, amid tourists and foodies with questionable employment status, I ran into the “hot” senior from high school. I remember G vividly, and in slow motion. Tan, built and smart (he was a math genius that would later turn into a poker champion), he was the ultimate Southern California renaissance boy, complete with effortless surfer hair. Even when I saw him yesterday, patiently waiting for Tartine’s signature morning buns, he still glittered the way a 14-year-old’s deodorant does.

When I saw him, I had to make a choice. Still slick from that morning’s dance class, glistening in my spandex, I could have flipped my hair, flirted and done some sort of bend and snap routine with the 20 dollars of assorted pastries I had purchased for myself. Knowing he was an up-and-coming entrepreneur, I could have handed over a business card and critiqued his dating app in its current iteration.

But turning 25 is about accepting who you truly are.

And what did I do?

I took a ham and gruyere croissant out of my bag of carbs and bit into a pillow of flaky perfection, which gave way to salty ham and sweet, creamy butter, which dribbled down my chin and onto my damp sweatshirt.


I didn’t break eye contact with G as I chewed, and sighed with the immense pleasure of eating something you’ve waited in line for.

He licked his lips, and I walked right past him, saying nothing as I sashayed out the door, devouring the rest of the perfect umami lump.

The new T. Swift, of course, was buzzing through my brain as this happened.

If there is anything I can impart to you from this project, folks, is that it’s thoroughly OK to be yourself. And sometimes that version of yourself is just what you want at that very moment, with no rhyme or reason.

I am me, you are you, and it’s a pretty grand affair.

And no matter how fabulous you are, there will always be the naysayers. And that’s OK too.

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I hope, dear reader, that you find what makes you unique and wonderful and that you take that spark and kindle it, closely and carefully. I hope the people that experience that warmth and light from you appreciate it fully - and that you can find it again and again.

I so enjoyed being your blogger for the past 25 days, folks. Don’t hesitate to say hello! or @claresayas on Twitter. And thank you, thank you, thank you for helping out with this campaign through donations of time, treasure, Tweets and hugs! I am grateful for you.

Mad props to NEVER SETTLE. Learn more about them here.


If you’re thinking of doing your own fundraiser to celebrate a milestone, I highly recommend it. I’ve never had such a fulfilling birthday. Here are the 3 tips for making it a success.

1) Care.

Seems simple, right? Simply caring, authentically, about helping others will make a huge difference. Authenticity floats, phoniness floats away. Choosing a cause that you truly care about, and showing that you have a sense of responsibility about your campaign shines through.

2) Communicate.

Being clear, concise and goal-driven in the way you share and amplify your campaign is key. Make sure you answer the W’s - who are you helping, how are you helping them, what is the cause and why should a friend donate? Attention spans are short, and phone screens are shorter. Write accordingly.

3) Collaborate.

Ask for help. That’s what raising money is all about - so take a couple of people you’re close to and bounce ideas off of them. Loop them into your process - if you’re raising money over a short period of time or a long one - and listen to their feedback, ideas and responses to your messages. Friends, colleagues and dates can all be valuable allies and partners in everyday conversations by the water cooler and on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. It’s rich relationships that drive richness in companionship and encourages people to pitch in in any way they can. And who knows - maybe you’ll meet some new like-minded folks in the process!


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