Today is graduation, the culmination of four years. 

It is crazy to think this day is finally here. 2017 always loomed over me as an intangible, distant number in the future. There has been a constant internal clock in my head counting down the years, quarters, weeks, and days, and I'm still in disbelief. Let me tell you, four years flies by FAST. 

I've a learned a few things throughout my time, and I'll probably write another post for that. What I've realized over this past week are these things...

Independence. This was one of the biggest motivators for me to move out of state. I'm forever thankful that I have gained a sense of independence and everything it comes with. With that being said, you can always ask for help. 

Showing up. This is so so so important. People appreciate it when you go out of their way to support them. Whether it be a small get together or a big ceremony like graduation, showing up demonstrates that you care. 

Friends. I have met some incredible people and made amazing friends. Through class and extracurriculars, instagram and friends of friends, I've made a little community of the the greatest people. I could not imagine my life without them and I'm thankful for all of the memories we've made together and the many to come. 

Thank you to those who have supported me in any shape or form over these past few years. 

I'd especially like to thank my high school counselor, Niki Weitzel, for believing in me and helping me get to the University of Washington. There were many hours spent in her office planning the and reforming that plan. She dedicated a significant amount of time to reading over my applications, researching universities, giving me valuable advice and listening to my all my goals and aspirations. She was my first mentor and without her, I would have never made it to UW. 

I was fortunate enough to receive scholarship money to allow me to attend the UW. I didn't realize how important this aspect was. Nay, as a naive high school senior, I didn't quite grasp the magnitude of it all. My scholarships allowed me to attend a four year university and graduate within those four years - a feat in itself. From this, I have gained powerful insight into how hard work pays off and an enormous amount of humility and gratitude. 

A huge thank you goes to Lauren and Cristin, my childhood best friends. We've grown up together, and though we have gone our separate ways, we're stuck with each other for life. The three of us have been side by side for seventeen years and I could not imagine it any other way. It's nice to return home and meet up with them, but also great to take on the world. They've been there for me on the good days and the bad, and all of the 1 hour + phone calls and facetimes. They are some of my biggest supporters; I love them so much. 

Finally, my family. I could not have done any of this without their love and support. Moving to Washington was one of the hardest things to do, especially not knowing a single soul out here. They always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and let me cry on the phone for hours when I was down. Thanks mom for sending me constant inspiration, dad for calling me out of the blue and making my day, and Gina for just being the best sister I could ever ask for. 

Gina, I hope I have been a role model for you. Mom and Dad, I hope I have made you proud. I love you.

Cheers to the Class of 2017 and to whatever the future holds!