I can tell you two things I know for a fact right now: I am not sad and I am not completely sober.

Fuck, I just graduated college. I decorated my cap, walked the stage, and took awful shots of tequila from a Coach flask during the ceremony. I can't even try and put into words everything that has happened the past four years. I've been confronted by mental instability, having my apartment broken into, too many failed relationships, even dealing with the after effects of death for the first time as an adult. I really don't know how I got through all of it.
That's a lie. My parents (thank god for the two of them), a hell of a psychologist, and the family I have built up here have all been more than I deserve. I can't tell you how many rad people I have in my life. And I'm leaving it all tomorrow. So yes, I am sitting here writing this, post graduation, with tears coming from every orifice of my body. I have been trying to fight back tears all day; the first speaker at the ceremony brought up how we've all gone through loss and what a struggle it's been and as I felt myself tearing up, I looked over to one of those rad people, Kenlee, and could tell she was on the edge of a tearful moment too. How do we all have such different experiences while still having the ability to cry at the same line?

This blog post is probably more for me than anyone else but my fingers were itching to get this down before I lost the moment.

There was a lot of risk in leaving home four years ago. I will admit that I came up here too comfortable. I didn't try to meet new people because I was content with a boyfriend I was also too comfortable with. I don't remember too much of freshman year because looking back at it, there wasn't much significance there, no growth. However, I was fortunate enough to find the love of my life: Chester.

So freshman year kind of sucked. I think I drank a total of 10 alcoholic drinks and made one new friend, and she was my roommate so I don't know if that really counts. Sophomore year was more of a yell into the void where I knew what I wanted but was too afraid to actually pursue. I knew what I wanted to do but stayed complacent. What was wrong with me? For the first time in years I was single and completely alone. I really had no friends and I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Don't get me wrong, it was a shit show, but it was a good mess to be in.

Things got progressively more exciting throughout my years in Flagstaff and I am telling you, my junior year went from 0-100 so quickly. No details but it was a hell of a year. But a few people got me through all the awful nights and shaky mornings. This was the first year that I had friends and I felt like family was something I could find in this city. Junior year was my most important year for good and for bad. I survived that year and that is the biggest thing I can take away from it for reasons that I don't need to explain to anyone.

And then there's this last year. A year where I had finally fallen into my own skin. I felt a confidence like never before and took the things I had learned in the years leading up to it to spend my last year the way I wanted to.

So maybe I lied before, saying that I wasn't sad because there are a few things to be sad about. I'm going to miss going out on Thursday nights and knowing half of the 500 people at Monsoon. I'm going to miss sunset spots because there's magic in looking over a city where you grew up and changed so much. I'm going to miss hammocks and days spent on top of Elden drinking Coors and exploring the heights of the city. I'm going to miss the rooftop of Maloney's and watching the pinecone drop from the Weatherford. I'm not going to miss the wind but I will miss the light dusting of snow that always happened to fall in May.

But more importantly than any of that is the people. It truly breaks my heart to leave those I have grown closest to in the hopes of finding something like it in a city 10 times the size. The fact is, I won't find a group of friends like what I have now.
I have been so graciously blessed to know the greatest man with the brightest future and he has a philosophy I wish everyone could adopt. I got to spend three crazy, difficult, and beautiful years around him and I wouldn't change that for anything. He taught me to not live so much in my head and that things that scare me can be good for me. Being around someone who knows how to slow down and enjoy the little things balanced out my manic self.
I also, by complete and total luck, met a girl so strangely amazing that sometimes all I can do is laugh at her frog jumps and corn obsession. We got to be roommates for too short of a time but will be friends for the rest of forever---I know that to be so true. She taught me to not keep repeating my old mistakes and that although I'm not invincible, I always have more fight in me.
And then there's my doppelgänger who I didn't meet early enough. We knew immediately that we both liked Desperate Housewives, that we loved to drink, and were book nerds; One of the fastest and greatest friendships ever formed. She taught me to not be afraid of people who remind you so much of yourself.
And then there's the group who I looked forward to seeing every weekend downtown. Aston and Riley, Shayan and the boys, my extended Wildflower family, and the strangers I met every night.

Throughout college I learned two extremely important lessons:
1. Everything does happen for a reason.

I went through the most challenging and difficult part of my life and yet I did it, on time and with a very decent GPA.

2. There's a heart in truly finding your place.

A lot of things were sacrificed the past four years but sitting here today, I know that I have such a hard time leaving now because of the fact that I found my people, in my town without sacrificing who I am. There are always people out there who will love you and need you, you just have to be brave enough to find them.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

xx