A surprised flutter of butterflies erupted in my stomach as she told me.

Is that the image I portray?

“I look up to you, so independent— so sure of yourself and driven.”

Backtrack to who I was a year ago and you would never hear those words, ever. Backtrack to who I was in high school, and you would definitely never hear those words, ever.

I am the last of my childhood friends to graduate. I was the last to choose a major. I was the last to figure out what I wanted. I am (one of) the last to have someone “special” in my life. I was the last one to find my drive, my passion.

I was, I am, the last one.

In all fairness, my friends are extraordinary. Aspiring (and extremely strong) doctors, lawyers, current engineers, physical therapists, athletes— not your average crew.

The fact that these people that I love, these people that I have looked up to for balance, drive, and different aspects of how I want to live my life for as long as I can remember, now may actually look up to me, is unfathomable.

In all honesty, the fact that anyone looks up to me at all is unfathomable.

But they do, or at least they might, so I am stuck here wondering why.

What changed?

Nothing (well, sorta).

Nothing changed, but everything grew. Nothing left me, but everything was gained. Nothing about my core was altered, but everything expanded my knowledge.

As I took on the last year, something just “clicked.” Something changed my mindset— made me see that I was capable, that everyone is capable. Something made me see that no one needed to tell me that except myself, that no one needed to believe it but me.

As we grow up, we realize what we want, we realize the type of person we want to be. We make mistakes, we find out who we are. We accept that we are single, we accept that we aren’t. We accept ourselves and where we are in life, we realize that we are enough.

“Independent, sure of yourself, and driven.”

These words and phrases are the farthest thing from the self-conscious, indifferent, and insecure girl I was just a year ago.

But something grew, something changed (well, sorta).

Some of the roots of who I was, some of the roots of my old mindset will always be there, but they are things that I am constantly working to overcome (let’s not get too deep here).

I don’t think I deserve to be looked up to. I think the people in my life are all making it, they are all incredibly strong, incredibly kind. I think they should all look to themselves for examples, for inspiration.

But, I do have a chance to be an example, to them and to everyone else I may come in contact with in my life, and so I am remembering that some may look to me, and for that reason, if for nothing else, I must continue to grow and improve. I must continue to prove them right, to set an example and a mindset that will help them lead a better life. I am remembering that we all have a chance to be an example— to be strong, happy with ourselves, content. To help others feel that way about themselves, too.

And, with that in mind, my ultimate happiness will follow closely, sometimes within me, sometimes just within my grasp— that much is up to me.


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