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Looking back on that girl, that day when my mom drove away with tears in her eyes not once, but twice because she took my car keys with her, I never imagined all she would go through in the next 10 years and all that would change.
She was a hard working girl who kept her high school job at a local supermarket by going home to work once a month. She met and formed one of the best friendships she is more than lucky to have. She also met her future husband, who she was not on a journey for when entering college. She was a girl who had dreams, hope for her future.
While those dreams might have shifted, it didn't stop her from taking on the world. Much as I am that same girl, a lot has changed. I have a degree that I am finally starting to put to work after being on what I thought was a new career path for 4 years. Still working hard to see how I can make myself better for my future kids, for myself.
That girl cared so much for friendships that she was determined to AIM with high school friends often and see them on any breaks she could. Those friends are still my friends today.
Other friendships have strayed, but many more have been gained. At just the right moments, they picked that girl up when she was losing her hope and wasn't ready to take on the world without her mom.
That girl has learned to fall on her own two feet more times than most girls her age have. I've paid my way through my very first apartment, student loan bills and shoveled myself out of debt. I've taken control of the direction of my life, which led me farther away from my hometown. I've also learned that family can change just as easily as friendships do, even though there's DNA and all that stuff involved. One of the hardest things to accept.
Of course, I learned so much about myself since I was dropped off that day. I learned about what a wonderful thing sisterhood is, 24 hour hangovers are a thing and coffee in the morning is always a good idea. I learned how to share a room with multiple strangers, how the sophomore 15 can also be a thing and that sometimes people can really surprise you (in good and bad ways.)
But most importantly, that girl was never prepared or ready to find the love of her life when she started that journey ten years ago. Someone she was never expecting to find but was lucky enough to have in her hardest moments and proudest moments. He's the one who continues to lift me up on my bad days and helps me celebrate in the best moments.
That girl might not be in the big city wearing pencil skirts every day but she's taking on the world. It might look a little different but the world is still out there and I will never stop trying to live my dreams.