Last night, I was catching up with someone who I only vaguely remembered meeting at a party two years before, when suddenly he stopped, and said, “You’ve changed a lot since the last time I saw you.”
I could see the recalculating interest on his face and for a moment, could see myself from his eyes. Like actually seeing me for who I’ve become.
“Really? For the better I hope?” I asked.
And this was probably the single greatest thing anybody’s said to me this summer. Sure, in my own head I know I’ve been going to great lengths to be that person I’ve always wanted to be and live my life to the fullest, but to have that noticed by practically a stranger? This was big.
Every now and then you have a moment where you are able to zoom out on your life and see just how far you’ve come. Just how different you are today than you were a year ago, let alone four years ago. A moment where you genuinely stop and appreciate everything that has led you to where you are now. This was one of those moments.
About a year ago, I hit a turning point. I decided that if I wanted to be happy, like truly happy, I needed to step things up. So I did. I went completely vegan, instead of that 90% silliness I was at for four years. I pushed myself at work, in class, with friends to give them the best version of myself possible and be fully present everywhere I was, and it made all the difference in the world.
I took on every leadership opportunity that came my way. I was elected to the officer board for my sorority and became an admissions fellow who’s sole job was to give presentations to prospective students on what it means to go to Northeastern. Some times upwards of 400 students a day. I like to think that means I changed lives but who knows.
I not only took on twin littles in the fall but in the spring as well, when we had our first spring pledge class in over 10 years. I made plans and had the best spring break of my life. Got offered a job on the spot at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Did an entire research project on the phenomena of college dating today. Learned aerial and circus skills, got my bartending license, and went skydiving. Road tripped from Chicago to Austin and back. I did everything I wanted and more, so I guess you could say it’s been quite the year.
Honestly, I’ve never been happier. I’m studying at an incredible university, in an incredible city, living in an incredible apartment with some of the best friends and family a girl could ever ask for. I have a job that not only pays the bills but makes me excited for the future, and every day I get to be the best version of myself possible. I have goals and dreams and ambitions I now genuinely believe will come true. At this moment, I’m exactly where I want to be.
So this is my wish for you all: to find your happiness and never stop reaching for more. More great friends and relationships, more new adventures, more opportunities to be that person you’ve always dreamed of. And gratitude for who and where you are every step of the way.
If nothing else, fake it till you make it. Remember, we are exactly what we pretend to be.