The Choices We Make

By, Michelle Cully

I was recently asked what advice I would give my 20-year-old self if given the chance. I think we all wish we could go back in time and tell that naive, wide-eyed girl that we once were to take it slow, enjoy being young, and stay out of the sun!!! That is the easy stuff. That is the obvious. For me, it is a little different.

I would grab myself firmly by the shoulders, look into a scared pair of eyes, and say, “don’t believe a word he says.” I would repeat it over and over until that tired, insecure girl listened and truly believed she didn’t deserve the cruel words and the physical punishment that was dished out on a daily basis.

At 20 years old, I was told that I was nothing. I was told I was ugly, useless, and disposable. I wish it stopped there. But it didn’t. As if his words didn’t sting enough, he followed up with a literal “one-two punch.” There were numerous smacks to the side of the face, kicks to the gut, and hair pulled out of my head. The worst part? I truly loved him. He was popular, handsome, and charismatic. When I first started dating him at 16 years old, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world because he chose me. He chose me alright. He chose to put me down, to belittle me, and humiliate me at every turn. He chose to call me names and to spit in my face. And then, one day, despite the odds, I chose to end it. I chose to get up after he left me crying on the floor. I chose to stay away when nearly every part of me wanted to go back. I chose not to believe him when he grabbed my face and said with a sinister grin “Just remember you will never be anything without me.” It took some time but I chose to leave him behind.

That was twenty plus years ago and I have made many choices since then. I chose to start a company and grow it to be productive and successful. Today I am the CEO of Xpressman Trucking and Courier, which is now a multi-million dollar business.

I own my 30-thousand square foot warehouse and employ over 100 people. I am a successful woman in a male-dominated industry and built a business despite having only a high school degree. I chose a family as well. I have two beautiful children who are strong and confident and see me as their hero.

I chose to believe in myself.

It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been a choice.

There were times when I questioned myself, my abilities, and my future. There were times when that voice was still in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough. For years, I still heard in my head how skinny and homely I was. And, instead of forgetting what happened all those years ago and tucking it all far, far away, I chose to tell my story.

I am writing a book about my choices and my journey. And although it has been difficult and painful to relive parts of my life, it has been a joy to revisit the successes and the high points as well. I want every woman and little girl who has ever been told “no you can’t” to shout at the top of her lungs “OH YES I CAN!”

Being a mother and a business woman (and now an author!) has given me strength. At 48 years old, I feel more beautiful and confident than ever. I feel successful and accomplished. And I feel like I have so much more to do! Recently, I was chosen by Harper’s Bazaar for their “Fabulous at Every Age” feature for the 40’s decade. I was whisked off to New York City where I was treated like royalty. I celebrated myself and my story with other women who are choosing to accept themselves, their flaws, and embrace what is still to come.

Michelle, As Pictured In Harper's Baazar

We are all beautiful and capable. We all deserve happiness.

So what would I say to my 20-year-old self if given the chance? I would say this:

When someone puts you down- choose to walk away.

When the odds are against you- choose to play anyway.

And when you fall down- choose to get up and fight.

You are worth it. Choose you.

Michelle Cully is the CEO of Xpressman Trucking and Courier in Randolph, MA. She is working on her first book “High Heels in the Laundry Room,” which is set for release in April of 2018. She is a sought-after speaker and panelist discussing business, women’s issues and perseverance. She resides in the South Shore with her husband and two children.