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What. A. Year. 

2021 turned my life upside down, right side up, and turned me around. I don’t know about you, but I am not the same person I was in January. As tough as this year was, I ended up learning sooo much about myself and about life. Eleven months ago I went to a different college, I was going through a super hard break up, and I was battling my mental health with everything I had. I ended up leaving college and getting a job, having an AMAZING summer, and transferring to KU. All within a year! With all that I’ve learned this year, I feel it’s only right to share it with you all!

January was extremely rough for me. I was involved in Greek life at my old college, and it turned out to be toxic and degrading. To put it lightly, I was being harassed by members of other Greek organizations after my boyfriend (at the time) started a rumor about me to better his chances of getting a bid to a fraternity. Yeah, you read that right. As word got around people started being absolutely vile toward me. I felt like their words were written all over me; like I was stained with their judgment. I thought so many people hated me and it felt so terrible. Even after I left the school in late January, their words and rumors would still haunt me for months. It wasn’t until June or July that I realized I can’t let myself be defined by what someone else thinks. When I was consumed in that toxicity, I didn’t understand that their “truth” or opinion of me doesn’t have to be mine. I didn’t have to see myself the way they did, no matter how many people wanted me to. You are not the opinion of someone who never took the time to hear your side of the story. If anything, you’re more the opinion of the people who celebrate your inner beauty without you having to beg them to find it.

While I was going through that, I was also going through a VERY messy breakup (you probably saw that coming). It was so emotionally draining that when I finally got out of it, I didn’t want to think about it. So I didn’t. For a really long time, I would occasionally play it back in my head but it would hurt so much that I would immediately switch my train of thought. I distracted myself with a job and kept busy, but that only hurt me more in the long run. As I neared summer I just couldn’t suppress it anymore and it consumed me entirely. However, once I finally allowed myself to feel, it got better. No one wants to be heartbroken, but you can only hurt for so long. You have to feel your feelings. Process it, let it hurt, get it all out, and then move on. No one cries forever, right? 

Both of those combined with having to leave college felt like the end of the world. I had no idea what to do. I was scared to ever go back to school and even more scared to date. It’s totally okay to put a pause on dating (after all, I’m only 19) but you can’t put your entire life on hold. The sun still shines, your heart still beats, and you still have a purpose in this world. If you mess up or you go through something hard, don’t hold it against yourself forever! People mess up. I felt like with every mistake, I permanently lost a part of myself but that’s not the case at all. You can always start over and try again. I hit an all-time low, but because I kept pushing I was able to go back to college and build life-long friendships with the people who saw me for who I really am. If you would have told me in January that I eventually healed from the pain and flourished, I would not have believed you. Anything is possible!!

Out of all the hard lessons I learned, these stuck out to me the most because they totally changed my outlook on life. When I was going through the rough patch, I didn’t think I’d ever make it out. But I did … and believe me, if I can do it you can too. Whatever you’re going through, know that there’s always a reason that’ll reveal itself sooner or later. Sometimes we get knocked down to remember how good it feels to finally get back up. I hope you took away something useful from this article, and let’s all cross our fingers for a better and brighter 2022!

Hi! My name is Kaitlyn and I'm a sophomore at KU majoring in elementary education. I love to write poetry, paint, and I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan!
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