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Thursday, February 25, 2016

10 days till 20

I have approximately 10 days and counting to be as reckless as possible during what I have left of my so called 'teen' years. Coming over to Europe and having to constantly have the 'omg you're 19?! but you don't look 19' conversation has obviously gotten old. Being a teenager, age wise, isn't what I'll miss about being a teenager, but rather the things I managed to do in the last 2 years of being a 'teenager' in college.

I was extremely ready, mentally and emotionally, for college. Whenever people would ask my mom if she was worried about me, she'd say, "No, she's ready. She's been ready." And she was absolutely right. Being independent and driven in high school doesn't really mix. You're constantly told to have dreams and aspirations, but to put them in a box until you're 'grown up' and it's the 'right time.' I was tired of being told I had to wait to do things- that I wasn't ready- that I would understand 'one day.' What people didn't realize is that I was ready, I had been ready. I was ready for something bigger and better and more conducive to being on my own.

When senior year hit, growing pains were imminent. I wished away every second of that year, and only dreamed of college. I didn't take in my last homecoming, sucky football season, or last AP classes. I didn't care that high school was ending and I didn't care that I would be going over 8 hours away to college. All I cared about was leaving.

After graduation, I hit the ground running.

Every single thing anyone had told me I couldn't or wouldn't do became first on my priority list. At the time I had no idea it was even happening. It's not like I sat in my dorm room at night and analyzed my progress since high school. But, looking back on it now, I was one hell of a teenager.

There's something to be said for having to experience adult things on your own when you aren't really an adult. Going to college when you're 18/19 is one of the strangest experiences because you're basically forced into fake adulthood. I didn't know a soul at Clemson. I had done my laundry on my own since middle school, but that was about all I had going for me. I didn't drink in high school, no serious boyfriends, and no extremely wild child moments.. straight and narrow and focused.

I guess straight and narrow did me well, because I landed at my dream school (go tigers). And my freshman year I had the pleasure of experiencing everything everyone that goes to college will understand.

Crying on the phone with my mom because I had strep and felt like the life had been sucked out of me. Dealing with the ghosts of relationships past. Realizing that college guys are no better than high school guys, there's just more of a selection. Finally cutting people out of my life that held me back. Losing crappy friends and replacing them with even better ones. Going to every free event I ever heard about (even when it was an indoor cookout lol). Experiencing dining hall food and finally realizing my mom was a good cook. College making me miss home, and home making me miss college. Learning that college football will make anyone a football fan. That first Christmas break where I expected everything to go back to how it was in high school, except everyone had new lives, better lives, and instead I learned that 'home' means family, not friends. That college friends and high school friends are completely different and that keeping up long distance friendships is no joke. Sometimes looking out for yourself, and only yourself, is the best and only option you have. What everyone else is doing is not necessarily what's best for you and your life. And, most importantly, you should always do what's best for you and your life. You're a teenager- be selfish, you're creating your life and for that you answer to no one but you.

After the basics were over, things got real- fast.

Fighting for what I wanted became the epitome of fall 2015. I did everything possible to keep my life intact and functional. I cut more people off. More specifically, I realized that blocking someone on social media isn't immature. It gives you the power to push someone out of your life when they don't have the common sense and maturity to walk away themselves. I stopped fighting for people that didn't want to stay in my life and I stopped mourning the people that walked out of my life too easily without realizing what they were losing on the way. I pulled the people I cared about closer to me. I learned to value someone when they were loyal, trustworthy, and honest. I learned life doesn't wait for anyone, and things go on regardless of if you're okay with them or not. I bought plane tickets home, not because I was homesick, but because after 19 years I finally valued my parents relationship and genuinely missed them. I stopped giving third and fourth chances to people that barely deserved them and gave second chances to deserving people instead. I stopped answering 'I miss you' texts from the people that decided to feel guilt years after they originally hurt me. I started valuing what people brought to my life while they were there rather than what they took from me when they left. I accepted my sorority sisters as the amazing people that they are- and took steps to make uninformed people more open to greek life. I spoke out about domestic violence and started speaking more frequently about women's rights. I took political quizzes, watched debates, and didn't fall into the 'I'm voting for blah blah because my parents are' trap. I closed a business I put a year and a half of my life into because I didn't love it anymore. I booked my flight to Italy and decided to spend spring semester abroad. I looked at my savings account and realized that I would rather spend whatever I could afford on experiences, on travel, on everything I always wanted to than anything material/tactile.

Some painfully hard realizations, breakups, and makeups later- life wasn't high school anymore. There's something so innocent about coming to college, then being able to look back and laugh at yourself and all the expectations you had. I thought I was an adult coming to college, but I had no idea what I was in for.

Being abroad has been eye opening, but coming here I was already the best possible version of myself. There's something to be said for becoming more of who you already are, but there's even more to be said for becoming that person in the first place. So thank you- to my parents, to my friends, and to Clemson University for making me who I am now in this moment.

So here's to you 20- you have a hell of a woman coming for you. I hope you're ready.



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