An Open Letter to my Junior Year

Dear Junior Year,

You suck. Just kidding. You are your own ugly, wonderful kind of beautiful.

This past year was more than I could have ever asked for. I’ve grown more in the last nine months than I have since coming to college. This last year brought me an anxiety disorder diagnosis, but it also brought me the realization that I am enough, just the way I am. This last year brought me a lot of tough decisions to make for the betterment of an entire organization, but it also brought me the leadership skills to realize I am capable of doing so. This last year brought me the discovery of wanting a different career path, but it brought me an incredible support system that will be right beside me. This last year brought me a lot of uncertainty, but it also brought me my best friend. This last year brought me a lot of new roads I’ve never traveled on before, but they are the most breathtaking roads I’ve ever seen.

When I moved into my apartment in August of 2014, I had absolutely no idea what this year had in store for me. If I did, would I have stayed? Who knows, but I am so glad I did. In this last year, I learned how to run an organization, but more importantly, I learned how to let the organization show me the way. In this last year, I realized I no longer wanted to be a teacher, but I realized that not having my entire life planned out is perfectly okay. I learned the importance of a spontaneous adventure with the people who matter the most. I learned the beauty of coffee, and the disappointment of having to drink it decaf. I fell in love with my blog, and putting my thoughts into words to inspire others and bring them peace. I learned that you can never take too many pictures in hopes of capturing every moment. I’ve learned how home isn’t necessarily a place, it’s a person, it’s a moment in time, it’s a feeling.

I found a deep love of being passionate about what you do, and I found new meaning behind the word “joy.” I fell more in love with Jesus than I have ever been before. I discovered the deep importance of the smallest moments, and how those are the ones you will treasure forever. I found Jesus in a bouquet of flowers, in an index card, in a friend’s blog post, in a wooden box. I found the beauty of words, especially when said by those you love. I realized that just one person, one single person, can change your world. I found a group of people who will have my back, whether it be with a laugh, or with a shoulder to cry on. I found my safe places, where I feel the most comfortable. I realized…you know what? It is one hundred percent okay to be myself, no matter what. I may be awkward, I may be loud, but I’m also caring, passionate, and full of joy, and it’s about time I shared that with the world. I’ve learned that “the moment you decided to be Emily Gallihugh and no one else was the moment you became ENOUGH.” And so, I am enough.

It’s never a bad thing to love too strongly, and to care too deeply. It’s never a bad thing to cry too much, or to laugh too loudly. It’s never too late to go to bed, and it’s never too early to squad up in the library. You’re never truly an “embarrassment” if you aren’t embarrassed to be yourself. It’s always okay to sing along to your favorite song, and it’s always okay to climb a doorway with your best friends. It’s never too cloudy to look at the stars, and it’s never too short of a visit to explore a city you’ve never seen before.

“Our job is to love others, without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

It is because of this last year that I have learned the beauty of unconditional love. I have learned that the people that matter to me, I will love them no matter what. Each person is beautiful, made in His image, and deserves to love, be loved, and feel loved, no matter what. Loving someone brings as much joy to the giver as it does to the receiver, if not more. The truth is, you’re going to get beaten, you’re going to feel lost, isolated, and alone. But the important part is how you respond to it, and that you realize that you aren’t ever actually alone. I’ve learned that no matter what, all we really need is love and a hug, and that He will hold my hand through everything I am put through, as long as I show the love that He shows me daily.

So, thank you Junior Year. Thank you for tearing me down, so I would have to find the strength to build myself back up. Thank you for making me realize that it’s okay to depend on the people around me, but it’s also important that I learn how to be okay with being by myself. Thank you for pushing me out of my box and forcing me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Thank you for allowing me to continue having a spark in my eye when I would do what I am passionate about. Thank you for teaching me to find help when I need it, and that because of my counseling, I’ve learned how to let others help me and how to help others. Thank you for constantly reminding me to just stop and breathe. Thank you for showing me that I WILL change the world one day. If I can change one person’s world, than I am almost there. Thanks for reminding me that “it will get better, and if it doesn’t, it’s not over.” Thank you for showing me that there are people who will have my back through it all. Thank you for bringing me people who touch my heart, no matter where they are. Thank you for blessing me with both burdens and blessings, because I wouldn’t have realized the beauty of the blessings without the roughness of the burdens. Thank you for teaching me to find joy in everything, in the beautiful, in the ordinary, and in the struggles.

I know this crazy journey I’m on isn’t over. I know my battle with anxiety is just beginning, and I still have no idea what I want to do after college. But I’m perfectly okay with that. This hectic, tear-inducing, confusing year has taught me so much and I don’t regret a second. Yes, I can wish that my life was smooth sailing, but would I have learned as much as I did if all I did was sit in calm waters? So, thank you. Thank you for bringing me the thousands of tears I’ve cried this year, because you know what? It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to smile, it’s okay to laugh. Just be yourself, because at the end of the day, that’s what makes you the most beautiful and that’s all that matters.

So, thanks, I guess.

Em

| oh right, I went to class this year too, don’t worry. Classes were cool. I’m just really thankful to go to the best school in the world. |

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