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Let me set the scene… September 18th, 2001, in a hospital in NJ a baby girl was born around 4:30pm changing the lives of many.

Wow, that was dramatic… What is this, my origin story?!

Moving on from that, today is the day I have been waiting for since June. Why June you may be thinking? Well at my job I was still considered as super young and mature for my age. I always got the same reaction when I told people I was 19 and they would look shocked and say, “Wow! You are so young, but so responsible.” Many mean that as a compliment and it feels good to know that they take me seriously with my career, however it always felt like a constant reminder of feeling like an adult trapped in a teenager’s body. Well I guess that’s a pretty good way to explain what the age 19 feels like. I feel so ready and excited to move on to the next chapter of my life, but yet I was tied down to the fact that I was still in my teens. In the words of my mother, you are an adult now and should be doing more, but you are too young to go out and have fun. What?! 😅 Which is it… am I an adult or a child? I felt like being labled as a teenager automatically makes you irresponsible and sneaky, but realistically that is not the case.

Since today I graduate from being a teenager (thank god), I want to share some of the things I have learned in my two decades of life:

It’s okay to be yourself!

I know this is the cheesiest one, but something I had struggled with from middle school to the beginning of college was my relationship with myself. I was so concerned with how everyone saw and expected of me that I started to dull my ✨personality✨. During quarentine I began to find myself and be who I wanted to be. I became more confident in my choices and wasn’t ashamed to express who I was. Even without the break, I know this is something I would have learned eventually, but it feels so great to be in this stage now. Never be afraid to be who you truly are.

Surround yourself with good people

Back in the day I was so caught up with how many friends I had vs. what really mattered, what kind of friends do I have. I love everyone who has been in my life so far because each one has taught me something that has shaped me to be the woman I am today. Even so, there will always be those people you look back and realize now that in the end they didn’t have your best interest. When I got to college, I wanted to surround myself with people who made me feel happy and wanted rather than someone tagging along. As I started to do that, I have felt more comfortable being myself with peers who won’t judge or make me feel less than. They accept me and are happy to be a part of my life as I am equally happy to be a part of theirs. Here’s to all my friends that make me feel loved in my life.

Family is everything

I know many of us can get tired with constantly being with your annoying brother or overbearing mother, but sometimes you learn to love and miss it. I used to partake in the same attitude of enjoying my solitude during family events and staying up in the cave that is my room. What a wonderful stage for teenage Valentina. As I got older I started to enjoy more of my family and missed them on certain occasions. In one of my previous articles of Diary of a Star Wars Nerd, I mentioned how the Mandalorian brought my dad and I closer together. I’ve always been my father‘s favorite (sorry Lina and Alex), but since he worked a lot we never really had time to hang out. I would always take it for granted when he would have days off and I would just go out with my friends because it was the weekend right? I realized as I got older that he worked a lot to provide for our family and looked forward to spending time with me on his days off. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I do now as I work and strive to pay for my education and necessities so I can see him on the weekends. As for my siblings, growing up they were the two annoying angel and devil on my shoulder. My sister being the smart know it all and my brother being the crazy soccer freak. They both had to grow up way sooner than they should’ve especially when I was born and have done so many things to take care of me. As I got older I realized all the sacrifices they made to either take care of or spend time with me. I remember crying when they each both moved out to live with their spouses as they moved on to new chapters in their life. Nevertheless they have taught me so much about growing up, their experiences, and things I could do that I never thought I could. As of now, my brother has a beautiful baby boy named Leo😊. I love him so much and I am so happy to be blessed to be an aunt.  It’s my turn to help them as they are two bright stars in my universe and I know they’ll always be there for me. As for my sister and brother-in-law, they have both made my siblings incredibly happy and I am so glad to have them as a part of our family. I simply cannot imagine a world with them not sitting at our dinner table eating all the food because they both get so hungry. And for my mom, she is one of the strongest women I’ve ever come to know in my life. She was the one who carried me around for nine months and has watched me grow for the rest. While she and I fight sometimes, she always makes sure that I am fed, my clothes are folded, and then I was raised to be a smart girl. She and my sister always taught me the meaning of culture and appreciating where you came from so whenever we went to visit my family in Colombia, I had a way to connect to my roots. She also has taught me the art of grocery shopping and cooking which has come in hany on many occasions. I am proud to be her daughter that she can brage to her friends about. As I start to move on to new chapters I know my family will always support me which is a huge blessing in my life. I can’t thank them enough for everything each one has done for me. They are all my everything and I would be there in the drop of a hat if they ever need anything…

With everything I have listed so far, these lessons have prepared me to become the successful 20 year older than I am today. I was taught to take every opportunity given and never apologize for being who you are. I currently have an amazing job that gives me the flexibility to create content and build my résumé at such a young age. At school I did everything I could and more to grab every opportunity that I was paying for in order to further my education and give me experiences that give me the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them in the process. I’m shaping who I am as a person so when I am ready to spread my wings, I won’t run into a glass window. My goal was to always inspire the people around me and lately I’ve seen so many taking that leap. It makes me absolutely overjoyed when someone takes my advice or was inspired by something I said or did. I’ve always wanted to help people and encourage them to fufill the best of their abilities. I hope that everything I have learned inspires or encourages you to make changes or work on yourself to be the best that you can be. In the end this is your life and you’re the only one who is in the driver seat. Nobody can maneuver your life, you have the power to do what you want and achive your destiny. 

Wow, that sounds like something from a movie…

HCXO,

Valentina

Hey everyone! My name is Valentina and I am a Junior at Millersville University! While I’m a Media Arts Production major, I also have a passion for fashion and nerd culture. I am a proud Latina who is always ready to try new things and isn’t afraid to take on life. Follow me into the unknown that is college, dating, and more! I hope my work inspires you as you read <3
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