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In the past few years, I’ve had best friends stop speaking to me out of no where, best friends take advantage of what I would do for them without an ounce of gratitude, best friends make me feel worthless, terrible, awful about myself. These were people I had known for years and these were people I would do anything for because I cared about them like family. While their treatment hurt me, I always rationalized it with the good and found ways to keep these people around despite the obvious ways they were using and hurting me. Years later, writing this after not speaking to many of those friends for months and even years, I am truly so thankful and content for what they have done for me, as the pain they caused me was okay, given that I would eventually meet people that treat me like a friend is supposed to treat someone they care about. My three closest friends have showed me what I’ve missed out on when I was wasting time on people that didn’t really want me around except when they needed help, and two of those people I have only known for less than a year.

Just within the past three months, a fellow editor on the school paper has become one of my best friends and one of the most important people to ever step into my life. I know that calling someone my best friend after only several months isn’t always the best decision because things like that take time to build, but sometimes you just know.  This past semester has been so difficult, overwhelming, and tiresome, but Hannah came through for me in so many ways and for that, I can safely say that yes, she is my best friend.

So this is to Hannah, my fellow penguin loving journalism friend, thank you so much. Thank you for coming into my crazy life and immediately putting up with me and being such a caring and amazing soul. Thanks for listening to me rant and rant and rant about things that aren’t 12189903_1042210202469454_1591478074431915739_neven important. Thank you for supporting and encouraging my passions as much as you do, even when I am busy beating myself up.
Thank you for being someone I can go to with everything, especially things I usually just keep to myself because I haven’t felt I’ve really had someone that I should pester with all the petty little things I talk about. I have opened up to you more than I have opened up to most people in a long time and despite the short time we have known each other, it’s like I have known you forever and can just tell you as much as I have. Thanks for being someone I can text at any time just to talk (even 4:20 in the morning). You are such a kind and caring person, and I am more than blessed to have found you and your friendship. This past semester wouldn’t have been nearly the same if we were not friends and I can’t even begin to picture how I would be 12239628_1053994351291039_5172147345383443337_nfeeling at this moment if I hadn’t had you helping me get through all the highs and lows (no matter how petty or stupid). I feel like we suddenly were such close friends, but I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am that things happened the way they did. I could probably go on and on about just how thankful I am. I’m just really not used to having someone that is willingly there consistently or someone that appreciates my friendship, no matter how clingy or overbearing I may be. I really do not know how I got so lucky to meet you. I hope you know that I would do anything for you and will always have your back because these past few months, you have always had mine. You are a true friend and I am certain that God placed you right by my side this semester because he knew I needed you.

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A (very) short piece on passion and friendship

Passion is one of the most alluring qualities of a person and I feel truly blessed to have friends around me that are filled with passion. To me, there is no better feeling than watching how someone’s face lights up when their passion fills them or the way their voice changes for the same reason.A passionate happiness is true happiness and all I want for the people in my life is for them to be happy. As someone who is absolutely driven by passion and devoted to my passions, being surrounded by such people is truly special. There is a difference between people who are passionate and people who are not, and I believe a passionate bond is much stronger and more valuable than one that lacks such passion. I take a great deal of my happiness from watching the happiness of those around me and I see a true beauty in seeing the effects of passion the the people I call friends. I cannot even begin to explain the way observing those I am closest to experiencing their passions makes me feel. I would put the happiness of my dearest friends over my own any day, especially if I get to see them smile and laugh over something that is actually changing their life.

You Got Me: An Open Letter to My Best Friends

I know I get really busy and in over my head. If I’m not working, doing something for school or the paper, or shooting, I’m probably sleeping. I know it seems like I either don’t care at all or care way too much. When it comes down to treating you like you’re the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, it is because you are. I swear that even though I seem like I never have time for anything other than building myself, I think about you so much. I know that it probably isn’t easy to maintain a close relationship with someone who might seem like they don’t even care about you all the time, but I can promise you that every single day, I say a little ‘thank you’ for the people that I have been blessed with. While my daily communication can be slewed with stress or other problems or, the worst, sometimes nonexistent, I will always be by your side the minute you need me, whether that is figuratively or literally (and I truly hope it always comes down to literally because I would drive hours for you).

So, to my best friends, to the best people on this earth (okay, that may seem a little excessive, but to me, you are), you’ve got me if you need me. If something happens and you need me, call. Even if you just need a friend in the middle of the night, please let me know. I don’t care if I’m sleeping, out and about, working on something important, or even taking a test, I will drop any and everything because you are the ones that deserve it. I don’t really think I deserve you so I want you to see just how much I care about you. I will drop every single thing to help you because while my time may seem so limited most of the time, you deserve all the time I could possibly offer and more. Don’t hesitate to come to me because I will not hesitate to help you. I don’t allow many people to get very close to me because I like to be choosy about who I allow in; I have allowed you in because I love you and I would do anything, absolutely anything, to be there when life gets rough or you’re just feeling alone. That is what friendship is all about, and while working my butt off to work towards my goals is great, these bonds we share mean so much more than a success on paper.

No matter what, you have me.

This Wild Little Dream

I’m starting off with the generic thing I see some variation of plastered all over social media at random points of the year:
If you had told me this was what my life would be a few years ago, I would have thought you were crazy.

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Shooting a concert with my best friend Aubree last fall

I never would have expected to be where I am in the least. From the days of awkwardly holding a camera and pretending I knew what I was doing because I could control the ISO and didn’t have to shoot with the flash up, to slowly figuring out how to control the shutter speed and so on, there was never a moment I sat down and thought, “Wow, one day this camera could become the object my entire life revolves around.” When I wrapped my hand around the kit lens that came with my first DSLR, I didn’t even imagine that one day I would invest in a lens that would not only make my arm fall asleep, but capture photos that would get my images plastered all over the place. When I took up journalism, it was writing that drew me to the field; I didn’t think photos would tie into that deal. I loved taking photos but I didn’t see myself as a photographer. You know what? I still sometimes don’t.

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On the field before shooting the Michigan football game

When I shot my first set of senior pictures, I was thrilled but I thought that was it. When I shot my first concert, I couldn’t contain my happiness but, scared and lost in the photo pit, I was certain it wouldn’t happen again. When I shot a concert with my best friend, I felt something so powerful about photography and the friendship formed partially by it. When I shot my first festival, a pride filled me that I could never explain nor replicate. And the day I walked out onto the field of Michigan Stadium clutching my camera and staring in awe at the audience, nothing could compare. These feelings that I was on the wrong path or that I was going no where seemed to be plaguing me but in that moment, it all made perfect sense to me. My camera, my passion, again reminded me that there is value and purpose in my life. More importantly, I was allowed to show my passion to those around me in a way that could translate both to those close to me and strangers alike.

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Spending time with one of my best friends, Sarah, during the halftime of a Michigan game

Through a camera and some dreams I thought I wouldn’t see beyond sleep, I have been able to find myself. Who I thought I was and what I wanted was shaken up right before my very eyes. With every single opportunity that has come my way, I have discovered what matters to me, what brings me true happiness, and what has the power to change my mood and my mind. For some, following my accomplishments is something they enjoy and they are readily willing to share their approval with me. For me, knowing that I have support and love out there is one of the most beautiful things. While I still struggle through not knowing exactly what I want out of this life, it is so comforting to know that my joy isn’t something I have to enjoy alone.

Some Insight on Change

There was a point where I let my closest friends walk all over me, believing their words over their actions and feeling I found the most amazing group of people to be surrounded by. A year ago I was lying on the floor screaming and crying about how one of those people kicked me to the curb with no explanation. Months ago I was crying while begging one of my close friends to speak to me or return my calls and text messages. I gave my all to people who sucked the life out of me and filled me with empty hope.

Today, I am talking to some of the most understanding and like-minded people I have ever met. I have found a tight knit group of friends in my program at school; they support my goals and ambitions. They understand my dreams and they have helped to build me up an immense amount thus far. I have advanced at the paper at school, meeting a group of outstandingly talented people. I can talk about what I hope for, what I fear, and where I want to be headed without feeling belittled, judged, or pushed down. I don’t feel like I am walking on glass, I don’t feel awful about myself when my words don’t come out right, and I can finally say I am completely happy. Healthy, supportive relationships are so important to our well-being. That being said, don’t go skimp on redeeming qualities in people just to have someone to hang around with. That person may be fun to spend time with for the time being, but they will eventually take their toll. Unfortunately, that toll isn’t even always evident.

It almost upsets me to look back and see that I accepted the treatment I was given by people I thought cared about me. I allowed myself to take the abuse of people that didn’t mean well all because I wanted friends to care about me like I loved them. I can’t really be hard on myself, though, because those experiences helped me to see what a healthy relationship consists of. The pain was necessary for the good to come out and truly make sense. Life isn’t set in stone even in the slightest. I fought the changes when they came, but giving in, I learned that there was much better out there, just beyond what I could see. We don’t know what this life holds and sometimes trying to control it completely will destroy us.

Embrace change in all aspects.

Change hurts, but there’s a cliche light at the end of the tunnel.

The Dream is Not Dead

Some days (okay, a lot of days lately), I wake up in a funk. I can’t seem to find any meaning in the mundane work, eat, sleep schedule. Between being caught in a minimum wage job that drains my energy to missing events because of that said job, it’s just not easy to feel like I’m making my dreams the reality I so need.

With those weights and constraints, I have got to keep focused. While my summer didn’t end up being what I expected, it had moments that weren’t short of wonderful and I can confidently say the dream that felt so dead just a couple months ago is alive. It took a lot of days of feeling down and out (hey, still having plenty of those days, but looking at the bright side and looking towards an amazing support system). It took days of doing what I love, seeing my work, writing some and remembering the feeling it gives me when the thoughts flow so effortlessly. It took a good conversation with an unexpected friend, plus conversations with the people that have been rooting me on from the start. I may not be at the top, but as I look around me, both figuratively and literally, I can say I am definitely not at the bottom. I have crazy dreams that people undoubtedly call me crazy for, I stay up late chasing and doubting those dreams, I have to clear my head at least a dozen times a day, but it is worth it. For the goals I have already achieved and what I wish to accomplish, this is worth it. Every single day of feeling worthlessness makes the days of feeling invincible and on top of the world worth it. It has been two years since this journey of mine began, and I can’t wish any of those past two years to be any different than they were. From the people I have met to the people I have lost, to the unbreakable bonds and incredible friendships that have come both out of the music industry, photography, and the journalism world, I have gotten my efforts back tenfold. Even if it takes me years and years to make the dream all that I want it to be, I have gained so much from the journey, that I’ve already made it. The dream was tossed to the side for a while, only for me to stop and realize mistakes were being made. To this summer, thanks for providing me with the wake up call that I really needed. I’m back and the dream is not dead.

An open letter to the people that criticize my career choice

Your question came with innocence, but as soon as I smiled and said, “Journalism,” you frowned and shook your head, despite the look of pure happiness on my face. The reaction applies to so many people, but to top off that clear disapproval, you had to open your mouth to spew your unnecessary views, while prying into my life where your nose is not welcomed. You put me on the spot and essentially forced me to explain my entire life plan, with you rudely interrupting to remind me that I won’t have a job or how the medical field is a far better choice.

To you, to all of you that can’t seem to accept my area of study, firstly, it is not something for you to ACCEPT or even give a second thought. Do you go around and badger other strangers like you have to me? Are you finding the teenagers that are choosing not to attend college and telling them they are wrong, the way you tell me I am wrong for what I am going to school to study? If you don’t, what makes bothering me any different? Why do you not care to know what I have done in regards to journalism and public relations? Are you okay with lumping someone you don’t know into categories that were most likely presented to you by *gasp* a journalist? Yes, yes you are because you did EXACTLY that to me.

Did you attend college? Are you working in the medical field? Are you making a good amount of money that allows you to live a lofty lifestyle? If you are, cool, good for you, no need to tell me I will not. If you aren’t, wow, no judging from me. I suppose we are different.

You do not know me, you do not know what I have accomplished or the drive I am filled with or the amount of time and energy I devote to my future. You don’t know the deep passions I have. You can’t see my dreams. You don’t know what I love or what I fear. You don’t know what I want to get out of life. You haven’t experienced my life from the exact position I am in. Until you have, you have not a single right to tell me that I am going to fail. For what it’s worth, I might fail. I might not be employed after college. I might struggle to figure it out, but as that is all occurring, never once will I stop and think, “Wow, that random asshole at the grocery store was right.” So please, kindly take your opinions elsewhere, preferably far from college kids who already wake up with programmed thoughts that they aren’t making the right decisions. Your help is far from.