This year was really something.
I moved to Dallas.
I was surprised with an engagement to my best friend.
I attended my first New York Fashion Week.

Out of everything I experienced, I think that the most powerful was that I found freedom in 2017.

I grew up like most of us did. I had intense feelings of insecurity almost all the time. I was never satisfied with who I was, embarrassed that I couldn’t be the pretty successful girl I bet my parents always wanted as a daughter. I wanted to be admired like the cheerleader at my high school so I never failed to fake a smile, even if I did not feel like smiling. I wanted the jocks to like me so I started playing volleyball and slowly let go of my morals to fit in with the ‘in-crowd.’ I wanted to be thin and fit so I started running. I went to college and I joined a sorority because, maybe there I would be admired?

I made it my life mission to be admired and let me tell you, when I want something, I make it happen! I ended up being high school class president, dated the high-school quarterback, got into the University of Texas, trained for over ten half marathons, joined my favorite sorority on campus, chose a prestigious degree path to apply to Physical Therapy school, and started a YouTube channel with over 100K subscribers. Only to graduate from college, look back and realize, I still have no idea who I am and I still hate the person I see in the mirror.

These decisions that we make as girls compound the problem that we are losing who we really are in the expectations that others have for us. We make one decision after the next and suddenly we have all these “assets.” We have a body we maybe worked really hard for to be noticed by someone else. We have the status of a club or organization that people desire. We have a ton of followers on Instagram. We learn to carry on a conversation in social situations in a manner that people respect. We waste so much time striving for an image that isn’t really us.

Flamingo Sweatshirt // Boyfriend Jeans // White Sneakers

Our identity becomes shaped by the expectations of the world and of others.

As a blogger this is only heightened. In 2016, I was paralyzed by comparison. I wanted to be like the other fashion bloggers and I only wanted you to see me at my best. Still, I strived to be admired. In 2017, when I moved to Dallas, I stopped. I gave up. I surrendered. With my inaugural Retainer Talk, I fearfully opened the real Dani up to the world in complete vulnerability. Rather than shunning me in shame, you all loved me for me. I went from the girl unsuccessfully portraying perfection to owning my imperfection with a little bit of sassiness because I knew that my frizzy hair wouldn’t keep me from the love of my Lord.

But 2017 was not just about me finding the courage to get cray and shake my booty on camera.

With no prior plans I started to realize that as I opened up to you all, YOU ALL opened up back. In the middle of this year, you all started sending me messages with your own retainers in. You started thanking me. You started feeling inspired to be who God designed you to be. Here I was thinking I was on my farewell tour to the internet because I couldn’t hang with all these perfect people on Instagram but you all started being imperfect with me. I realized that there was a secret club out there of women all struggling and wrestling with this idea of perfection. There was a society of us that wanted to have our messy buns and pimples and still be bold enough to feel hot. There was a group of sassy mamas out there wanting to feel comfortable in their own skin powered by the love of God over others.

In 2017 I found freedom in being transparently Dani Austin with no shame and a little bit of sass.

My resolution for 2018 is that you will do the same. My dream for 2018 is not about setting new goals for my body. Although, I will because I want to have a rockin’ bod for my new husband. It is not about a new level of productivity. Although, I will push for that. My dream for 2018 is for a movement. My wish is for every girl that follows me and beyond to find freedom from the expectations they hold on themselves and others. I want to see surrender of perfection for all of you sisters that follow me and message me daily. I want to see all of you embrace your inner sass and tell the world who you are, versus letting them tell you. I want to see us united as a community to support and love one another in our daily struggles. We are all in this together.

I am leaning in to more transparency and rawness this year with you all in 2018.

But I am going to challenge you all to join in with me. I am determined to create a community for us online. I don’t know how but it’s my mission.

2018 is about us all rediscovering ourselves outside of expectation.

It is about us being defined by God.

By the end of 2018 we are going to look at our frizzy hair and acne and with sass say one thing:

I’m a sassy hot mama.

Dani Austin

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