18———You were something.
You were hours of tennis on gloomy afternoons.
You were falling in love with a team.
You were senior spring break.
You were afternoons on the beach with Liv.
You were car ride vlogs with Julia.
You were Kairos 111.
You were my last tennis season.
You were graduation.
You were goodbye to Dowling Catholic.
You were state tennis.
You were hot mornings on court and even hotter tears streaming down my face.
You were work. Lots and lots of work.
You were another Fourth of July up North.
You were spike ball among the trees and morning runs in Minocqua.
You were late night adventures with Ben.
You were coffee dates with Jack.
You were Sundays with Sydney.
You were mystical mornings at Dad’s office.
You were The Head and the Heart.
You were OneRepublic in Kansas City with Jacqueline.
You were sunny afternoons of realizations.
You were drives with the windows down and music cranked up.
You were Fongs pizza + picnics + Liv.
You were Chik shakes and movies with Kirby.
You were the yearbook.
You were hard work.
You were humility and satisfaction.
You were letters and notes and smiles.
You were courage.
You were Hinterland.
You were standing in a field in St. Charles with my closest friends drowning in awe at The Head and the Heart’s performance.
You were drives in downtown Des Moines.
You were wondering and confusion and fear.
You were mornings that turned into afternoons at Horizon Line.
You were all sorts of goodbyes.
You were packing up my life.
You were the final farewell with Jacqueline at 6 AM.
You were “Winter Song” snuggled up with Julia.
You were a 12 hour drive to my new home.
You were a mad dash to set up a dorm room (read: shoe box) with the Millers.
You were a hot, humid, horrible Camp Corral.
You were talking to Amanda on the bus ride home—my first college friend.
You were Dallas. All at once.
You were syllabus week (RIP).
You were loneliness.
You were questioning if SMU was right for me.
You were avid homesickness.
You were FaceTime calls and snail mail.
You were making friends in class.
You were solidifying my values.
You were Wednesdays at OT.
You were meeting the biggest gifts from God: Jan & Al.
You were a power outage and slumber party with Jen.
You were late night laughs with Carson.
You were Boulevards and football season.
You were visiting my friends in Iowa City.
You were confronting the reality of change.
You were flights to and from DFW & DSM.
You were brunches and Ubers and all things big city.
You were Mario Kart with Abba.
You were life chats with Rani.
You were sickness. And hopelessness.
You were anger and annoyance and helplessness.
You were a wonderful Thanksgiving.
You were a newfound appreciation of my home.
You were waiting and wishing to be in my home church again.
You were the best hugs of my life.
You were jokes about corn.
You were sarcastic and sincere conversations with Saurav.
You were decking the halls in room 338 with Eden.
You were realizing that some loves won’t die. But they won’t blossom, either.
You were reuniting with beloved friends and family.
You were creativity bursting at every outlet.
You were painting with Granny.
You were countless Chipotle runs.
You were growing up—fast.
You were getting closer with Charlie.
You were The Office.
You were dreams and visions.
You were taking care of myself.
You were saying yes, but knowing when to say no.
You were pure confidence.
You were self-consciousness and self-doubt.
You were a hodgepodge of all of the feels.
You were sparkling—beautiful and magnificent—at the same time you were suffocating and scary.
You were leadership and lessons and living through experiences.
You were one hell of a year.

19———I have no idea what you will hold. Even if it’s nothing of the same as 18, that is okay. Because 18 was different than 17, and look where I am now; I have grown and loved and found myself so much more, so much more wholly.

So 19, even if you are every kind of unexpected or different, I am ready. And I am welcoming you with open arms and an even more open heart. xx


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