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I turned 20 & I'm having a crisis

First off, where did all the time go? Last time I checked I was sitting on my window sill in my bedroom in a little town in Michigan writing a plan of things I want to accomplish by the age of 20. Well, 13-year-old self, I have some bad news, and also some good news—no you did not marry Justin Bieber, but you did move to Chicago and live in your own apartment, and you did discover your passion of storytelling.

It took a lot of bumps in the road, a lot of crying to Bon Iver, and a lot of self-discovery to get you there. It took many nights of staying up late your senior year overwhelmed with trying to handle a whole newspaper staff, but all that hard work led to an amazing and award-winning portfolio as Michigan’s High School Journalist of the Year. It took being heartbroken by guys too many times to count, to learn there is nothing wrong with being alone. It took a lot of falling on your face and dusting yourself off, to learn that life will never be a smooth sailing journey, but that is the beauty of it. It took illnesses and deaths in the family to realize how fragile life is and how fast time goes by. It took uprooting your whole life to a brand new city to transform you into who you are today—strong and confident and someone who will never stop working hard towards her dreams, because one day all of these stumbles and triumphs will lead you somewhere great.

Maybe the plan I wrote when I was 13 wasn’t too far off, but as I grew older, my priorities began to shift and my ideals aligned. I guess I still do not own those 15 dogs I thought I would by now (pretty upset about that one), but here are some goals I accomplished, and others I haven’t yet mastered:

1. Stop letting boys hurt you

Unfortunately, I still have not learned how to do this. I’ve given the wrong people the right pieces of me. But I have learned that no one can ever make me feel worthless, because in the end, you accept the love you think you deserve, but you always deserve more than you think. The person you are meant to be with will never have to be chased. Just let it happen when it is meant to.

2. Live in Chicago

I still remember being a little girl and seeing the city for the first time. There was something that lit up inside me and it never truly went away. I now find myself living in my own vintage studio apartment right by my life-long role model since I was six—Giuliana Rancic. There is also a gelato stand across the street and Sprinkles cupcakes around the block, so basically I am living the dream. I still can’t believe it.

3. Stop feeling lonely

This is a hard one and something I still struggle with. Falling in love with yourself doesn’t make you vain or selfish, it makes you indestructible. So put on that Stevie Wonder vinyl and dance alone in your apartment in your underwear. It’s a free world!

4. Make a lot of cool friends

Throughout life’s twists and turns, I’ve managed to meet some really incredibly talented and ambitious people—not to mention they are way cooler than I ever will be! They not only inspire me, but they also make me want to become a better me. Whether it is back in Shelby Twp. sitting in Starbucks discussing life over a chai tea latte, or sitting at the lakefront in Chicago, it’s the greatest feeling when you have people who are there for you and support you. You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.

5. Marry Justin Bieber

My first love. Do I regret it? Nah!

6. Stop over-thinking everything

You have to stop worrying whether he likes you or not. You have to stop thinking why he stopped caring about you over six months ago. You have to stop asking everyone for their opinions. I learned you just have to let go of what you thought would happen and live in what is happening. That is the whole point of living in the moment—and in the end, it is totally worth it.

7. Be successful

So far I feel confident in the successes I have been able to accomplish, but I have a long way to still go. Sometime I wish I could go back in time, sit down with myself and explain that all the hard work will pay off and everything will be okay. Everybody loses ground sometimes and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the way life works. It’s hard to wrap your head around. You get to thinking about the boy who rejected you, friends who’ve talked behind your back or an error you had in one of your stories. You lose sight of the big picture—the fact that life has a beautiful way of remaking itself every few weeks. Remember, it takes a few stumbles to reach the top.

8. Stop biting your lip

Sorry I can’t break this habit. I tried.

9. Don’t settle

I wish I would stop doing this. I need to stop settling for the first person who buys me dinner or the person who says I’m pretty or the one who does not share my dreams but laughs at my jokes. I’ve learned quickly to not settle for a candle when you were taught to love the sun. Because there is someone out there who you will not have to settle for, and you are worth so much more than convenience and ease, you are worth a heart that fights for you.

10. Find your passion

I can still remember walking into my first journalism class as a sophomore oblivious that this would become my passion. I remember writing my first story about my dad’s diagnosis and realizing that storytelling was a skill that came naturally and something I never wanted to stop doing. It all started in the little newsroom in room 640 at Eisenhower High School where I worked my way up from a contributing writer to Editor-in-Chief. There is nothing I love more than the rush of a breaking news story or the feeling of being able to share someone’s personal story with the world. It’s an opportunity I never want to let go of.

11. Be on T.V.

No I am not telling the news behind the desk of CNN asking politicians those tough questions or filling in for Giuliana during E!’s Live from the Red Carpet, but I am getting my feet wet doing live shots with the Chronicle’s multimedia desk and doing a taping every Thursday about the Chronicle’s top headlines for Metro Minutes. It takes time, but it also takes a lot of dedication, practicing and perfecting.

12. Continue being weird

I think there is something special about being silly and not caring that you are. In the wise words of Miley Cyrus, only God can judge us. So go ahead, eat noodles for breakfast and pull out the robot move during a Kendrick song at a party. I learned just to have no shame and stop caring what people think of me. The people that like me, will like me for who I am.

13. Hang out with family more

After my grandpa passed away in July, I witnessed that family is so much more then people you are related to. It's knowing that your family is not just here to love you, but to watch out for you. My family is my biggest supporters, and I am lucky to know that they will always have my back. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work. Sometimes it’s hard living far away from them, but there is no one I call more than my mom and dad to rant about work and sources or discuss the latest current events.

14. Make cool playlists on iPod

Since I no longer have an iPod I could not fulfill this goal, but I do make some pretty bomb playlists on Spotify. I would like to thank my parents for raising me in a household that played great music. I think you guys are huge part of why I have an appreciation for the Motown hits and classic rock.

15. Drink coffee

When I was 13 I was not a huge coffee fan, but something about it screamed “adult” to me. Well, I can say I now successfully drink coffee every morning in my collection of assorted coffee mugs. Thanks to my Keurig, I have not fallen asleep once during any of my morning classes. Now this is an accomplishment to be proud of.

16. Run a mile a day

I have fallen in love with running. It’s the only things that will take my mind off of everything. Since I’ve moved to Chicago, the lakefront is my best friend. Sadly, I work too much and running at night does not sound like a good idea with my clumsy habit of tripping over uneven sidewalks.

In the end, I’ve come to learn it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. Sadly, I wish I wore red lipstick more and broke boys’ hearts instead of them breaking mine, but life doesn’t work like that. I found if you stop speaking to someone who meant the world to you, you’ll survive. You can’t let your losses keep you back from new gains. Sometime you just need someone to come over and sit on your kitchen floor and eat gelato at 3 a.m. to make you realize everything is not going to ruins. Always remember, you are beautiful. So own it. Walk like your hips move mountains. Remember, if you can love the wrong one so much, just imagine how much you can love the right one. Continue to work hard until your role models become your peers, then after that, work even harder. Always choose chasing your career over chasing guys. Don’t skip stages in your life. Be 19 and kiss him on the rooftop. Have breakfast at midnight with people you just met. Because in the end, everything is going to be okay.

Most of all, you have to love yourself. You have to get out of bed at five in the morning, brew a cup of black coffee and sit on your rooftop and watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan. You have to sit next to the man at the train station who is reading your favorite book and start a conversation with him. You have to come home after a horrible day and take a long, hot shower and sing Vienna by Billy Joel at the top of your lungs. Then you have to wash all your sheets until they smell of that lemon detergent you bought for five dollars at the corner store. You have to stop taking everything so personally. You have to tell someone their eyes remind you of green swimming pools in July or that their talent amazes you. You have to sleep in on Saturday and wake yourself up early on Sunday. But above all else, love yourself. Just love yourself.

“Something will grow from all you are going through…and it will be you.”

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