Today marks one month from the day I left St. Louis. I love St. Louis, but I don't think I could ever go back - what happened there was too great for me - any other visit would be weak and disappointing by comparison. When I wrote the following I didn't post it because I thought that I would regret sharing as much as I did, especially because I wouldn't be able to take it back. What I realize now is that I would regret not sharing it and I refuse to live a life of regrets. And so, with this post, I share how one person changed me, how I will never forget it, and how I am now moving on.
I have found that everywhere I go I make friends that make the journey worth it. This summer was no exception. I am proud to say that the people I worked with and lived with this summer were some of the most talented, fun and caring people I have ever met. They are indeed lifelong friends and I hope deeply that our paths cross again, in the professional world as well as in the personal.
But there is one that stood out among all the others. I hope that when the individual reads this (and I hope they do) they will have no doubt that I am talking about them. There will be assumptions made by friends, family and others as to who this person is and what exactly happened this summer. I invite them to assume away, but I respect this persons privacy too much to reveal specific details and the true events that happened are no one's business but my own. But I feel I must express myself because I cannot speak of this summer without acknowledging the impact that this one person had not only on my time in St. Louis, but on me.
I admit to always feeling shy, and being the one who always wanted the attention from the crowd but not sure how to get it. I feel awkward with people I don't know well. I always thought I was confident in myself and I believed myself to be strong, smart and convicted in my own beliefs. I thought I was a person that I was proud to be. I always wanted people to like me, and to never think badly of me. But I still am surprised to find out that people like me and want to be my friend.
Getting to know you, the one who would argue with a brick wall, completely shattered everything I had ever thought to be true of myself. Somehow you showed me that I wasn't confident enough- that I sold myself short. I didn't know how weak my confidence was until you told me. You showed me what I deserved and that I never have to sacrifice what I want for anyone: The people that are worth it won't expect me to change. I stopped giving a damn of what others thought of me and lived for myself and as a result I had one, if not the best summer of my life. You taught me what it felt like to be respected in ways that no one has ever shown me before. I don't have to be embarrassed by what I want, what I believe or how I feel because that's who I am. Somehow my shyness melted away this summer, and I got the kind of attention I had always wanted.
You didn't make my life easier. Hell, you made it more complicated the way you shook it up. I cannot tell you how many times I just wanted to walk, or rather, run away from everything that was happening. You terrified me, angered me and pulled my emotions in 700 different directions. In the most trying of times, I relied on my strength and upheld my convictions despite the rocky platform on which I had learned my confidence stood. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by the results. In fact, I am more proud of the woman I am now because of those moments. I hope that was apparent to you - that my strength and convictions never wavered, but my confidence grew. I cannot deny the fact that my life feels fuller and better simply from what I learned from you. I believe in myself more fiercely than I ever have in my life. Did you know that confidence makes you happy? I am a happier person now, thanks to you. I can say with conviction and more confidence than I have ever had before, that I lived a full life this summer with no regrets and will take that with me everywhere I go.
You gave me so much and my worst fear is that I wasn't able to reciprocate it. I hope that you took away from me as much as I took from you, otherwise I will feel very selfish in how our friendship developed (but I know it was never a one-sided relationship). "Thank you" is too small of a phrase, too little of words. It just doesn't seem enough to say. But when you said it to me, it filled me up and reminded me that it was all worth it. One thing I have always known to be true - that hasn't changed from meeting you: Everything happens for a reason. You and I were supposed to meet, become friends and impact each other in ways we didn't expect. Some things are meant to be.
I hope the day comes when our paths cross again. Until then, you have a lifelong friend who's only a text away.