Hello everyone! I’m writing to you from sunny South Florida. While this vacation could not have come at a better time, I’m home for a reason. My little brother (not little at all, he’s almost 6’ and I’m barely 5’) is graduating from high school. One year ago, before I moved to Cali, I promised him I’d come home for this no matter where I was…. So here I am!
One weird thing about being home is that you start to remember people, events, etc. that you haven’t thought about in years! Just right now, sitting in my old room, I see: dried roses I saved from my ex-boyfriend, a photo taken when I was in 5th grade with two friends I still consider sisters, and a shelf of miniatures my grandma moved into this room when I went away to college.
All of this reminiscing is making me think of my own high school graduation and about the changes I’ve made in the last 4 years (almost to the day). But in order to process and actually learn from it, I need to write it out… so here I go!
Friends: My senior year of high school, I had a big falling out with the group of friends I spent most of my time with. Lucky for me, I’ve always had a core group of friends who are there no matter what, including my three best friends. These people are the ones who were there at my door the day after my mom died, the ones who I’ve gone months without speaking to only to hang out and feel like no time had passed, the ones who I know I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. This other group of friends changed multiple times growing up, and were always considered temporary. Today I find myself still close with that core group of friends, more confident in our relationships than ever before. But I’ve also made some new, incredible friends who don’t feel as temporary as those in the past. In fact, I don’t feel I have any friends I’d be able to lose touch with and just move on without truly missing. Realizing that feels great… it means I’ve weeded out those who don’t matter and am only surrounding myself with people who add to my life. Score for you, 22-year-old Chelsea!
Family: As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been really close with my family. After years of struggles with my dad, by senior year of high school we had a great relationship. I went away to college and my relationships with my dad and brother just seemed to get stronger. As someone whose mom was sick for four years, only to pass away just before I turned 16, I’ve always understood the importance of family. The only big changes that happened in my family life over the past four years are that I’ve lost two of my grandparents, my dad now has a girlfriend, and I no longer fight with my brother about dumb shit. Oh, I also live on the opposite side of the country and therefore am constantly reminded of how much I love them.
Romance: I imagine this to be pretty normal, but my 18-year-old romantic life is incredibly different than that of my 22-year-old self. This time four years ago, I was head over heals in love with my high school sweetheart, who I’d been dating for over two years. The plan was to go away to college, do long distance, and then one-day end up together in the same city. What ended up happening was I went away to college and we “broke up” within a week, only to really break up eight months later. Today’s Chelsea is 100% single, and definitely ready to mingle. I’ve gone through some highs and lows in the last four years, and though single might not seem like progress from having been in a relationship four years ago, TRUST ME it is. Even though I would have told you I was independent then, I wasn’t. I was a girl whose emotions were so easily manipulated by a dude. I’d given so much of myself away; I often forgot exactly what I wanted. Or what I deserved, as a matter of fact. So while I would love to be in a relationship, or even see one of the horizon, I truly appreciate being single in this season of my life. And as tired as I am of online dating and asshole guys, I’m learning more about myself from each and every one!
Personal: Yes, I’m much happier with the person I am today than the person who walked across the stage four years ago. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is what I want from life. Of course, this is always changing but as of right now I know I am exactly where I’m meant to be. I have a job I totally love. I know I am pushing myself out of my comfort zones as often as possible. I realize the importance of embracing different sides of myself. I no longer let the people I surround myself dictate what I do with my life. Of course, there are areas of my life that have not changed nearly as much as I’d like to. For example, my health. I’ve always wanted to lose weight but thanks to these last four years it’s no long motivated by an extrinsic desire. I now am focused on this because I want to get healthy and not be limited in what I can do with my life. But as far as confidence goes? I own my body and if people don’t like it, that’s their loss.
Writing this out has been cathartic for me. I hope you nerds take some time and look back at the one-week-ago, one-year-ago, and one-decade-ago “you.” I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
Just remember: Change is inevitable, so we can either learn to embrace it or be left behind!