18…

This birthday feels a little different than the others. It feels like a death and a birth intertwined into one. The world recognizes me as an adult today, but in regards to time, my childhood has come to an end. One day this summer, I randomly remembered what I believe is my earliest memory. I was a baby, around 6 or 7 months old. I was swimming in a baby ring with my dad in the lake my parents got married at. In my pink bathing suit, I began to cry and scream because I was afraid of the enormous lake surrounding my tiny body. This moment and this fear stuck with me for most of my childhood, just like thousands of other memories have stuck inside my complicated head. I’ve always had a good memory, And today I couldn’t be more thankful for that. It’s a gift to be able to remember the moments and the people who have shaped me into the person I am, on my 18th birthday.

It’s wild to think that I’ve been living on this earth for 18 years. Although today feels no different than last week when I was 17, turning 18 feels like the beginning of the rest of my life, and in that sense, today feels big and scary and exciting. The year of 18 means choosing a college, moving out and living on my own (finally)! But it also means making big financial decisions and charting the path that will begin the adult chapter, which weighs heavy on my heart today. In so many ways, my 17th year on earth prepared me tremendously for the upcoming 18th year. On my birthday last year, I had lived in New York for only 3 days and everything was so new and big and nothing was figured out or planned. Turning 17 in New York City felt like having the whole world at my fingertips. That feeling was so exhilarating and that feeling is something that I haven’t stopped chasing ever since that day. 

It makes complete sense why turning 18 feels like a “re-birth”. My 17th trip around the sun was a journey and a process to shed the parts of me that I didn’t need anymore. In this process, I gained the parts of me that I needed for adulthood. So today, it feels good to celebrate surviving the big and daunting year the world gifted me last year, at this time. We celebrate birthdays to celebrate the day we were born, when really, we should also be celebrating the person we’ve become since our last birthday. Let’s celebrate the good people who walked into our lives, the challenges we conquered, our self development, and the people who loved us and helped us grow throughout the year.  In a sense, I think it’s an accomplishment to know that I’ve survived this big and scary world for 18 years. All the obstacles I’ve faced during all this time, and now it’s freeing to know that all of those challenges were there to prepare me for the life I have ahead. 

Thursday night at work, my last night of being 17, a little girl came in with her mother. She had the same short haircut and the same little voice I had when I was younger. Everything she said and everything she did reminded me completely of my younger self. The way she talked to her mom about certain objects, the questions she asked, and her curiosity to pick up everything that sparked her eye. It was almost as if the younger version of myself had come back to visit me, to remind me that everything was going to be ok, that my childhood will always travel with me, and that she’s proud of the person she’s become. I think in that moment I knew it was ok to move on, to grow up, to turn over the next page. So now with excitement and assurance, I can say, This is 18.

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First Birthday

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18th Birthday 🙂

The End of The NYC Chapter (For Now)

As I look back on this insane year, so many thoughts, feelings, and memories rush back to my  head. Last year at this time we were just about to move to New jersey, and if I could have seen how incredible this all ends, I think the journey would have been a little easier. But I know this journey went exactly the way it was supposed too. When we first moved it was so easy to become wrapped up in the excitement and adventure of NYC, and so easy to forget everything, to feel like everything was going to be perfect. But little did I know, moving here was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Once the newness of this place wore off, the loneliness kicked in.

How ironic it was, even though I lived in a city of 8 million, I had never felt more isolated in my entire life. Something I hope I never have to feel again. Time seemed to move slower and slower each and every day. The world seemed to keep moving around me as I just stood still and watched everything happening around me. I wondered why we even moved here, every single day, because for the first few months nothing seemed to go right.

The flights back to New York after visiting friends in Cincinnati were the most painful experiences. Two hours in the sky, wishing maybe just maybe, we don’t come back down to the ground. Because landing meant facing my sad and lonely reality. But don’t get me wrong, there are parts I loved about living here and still love to this day. Because at the end of the day, even though this city seemed to test my limits and push me to the edge, I knew it could show me love when it wanted to, I knew because of this city, I was growing and blooming into an entirely new person. Walking the streets of New York made, and still makes me feel like the most free person in the world. I feel in control, and I feel my best and usually happiest everyday as I take in all the beauty this city has to offer. The fashion, the people, the buildings, the food, the culture, the excitement. This city has true magic when you are willing to search for it.

When we finally settled into our little Harlem apartment in October, things started to get a little better. I did something I swore I would never do, which was starting school at an all girls catholic school. It was tough, riding the subway in my skirt and knee high socks, getting looks from old men, which made me feel insecure most of the time. But this was another thing I learned to love about NYC, the subway.

What’s there to love about being squished with strangers early in the morning in a metal tube?! For me there was something about being surrounded by people from every  background, economically, racially, culturally. In these big train cars, in the underground of NYC, I saw and experienced some of the loveliest moments during my time here. Smiling at cute babies, making friendly conversation with strangers, witnessing random acts of kindness, helping strangers and doing some of my best thinking. After a long day of school or a long night out, the subway was always the place I could catch a breath, close my eyes and find some peace. The NYC subway will forever and always be my favorite form of transportation! 

In November, after four months of having practically no friends, I met my best friend and literal life saver Zoe! Without Zoe I have no clue how I would have made it through the toughest times here. I knew I could always look forward to our Friday night dinners, dreaming about the future and relating over our love for fashion and good food. She is a gift I am forever thankful for, and she truly helped me see the beauty and excitement in this place.

As fall turned into winter and the weather got colder I had to find something to do so I wasn’t cooped up in my apartment all day. Walking to the Upper Westside or the High line was what kept me going and what kept me sane. Listening to my music, meditating and really just sitting in my sadness and my dreams was really important to me. My writing developed into so much more than I ever thought it could be. In these moments I was really able to dig deep into myself, figure out what I really wanted, what I needed to work on and achieve. It inspired me to start writing and praying for the things I felt were missing from my life. In January after a long and hard semester in New Jersey and in Catholic school, the best thing happened to me.

I stumbled upon the most special, little public school in New York City, and possibly the world. A place where all of us who feel like we don’t belong could come together and find community, support and acceptance with each other. This changed my life and my world. Finally I felt like I could understand why I was called to NYC. When nothing feels right for months and you find yourself in a desert, stranded, finding something that felt right was my biggest win. The people that I met at my new school filled my heart up with the joy it had been longing for. I had motivation to get up every morning and go to the classes I loved with the people I loved, which was very special.

In March, when my family made the decision that we would move back to Ohio in the summer, I think that was the moment when I let myself fully indulge and absorb this city and I fell more in love with it, which is something I’m so thankful for. Spring in the city was truly some of the best months I had ever experienced. Just as the trees and flowers became new again, new beginnings started to present itself to me. The good thing that came out of having a rough time here was that my spiritual life grew more than I imagined it could. Moving here forced me to trust God because I had nothing else to fall back on, and that was incredibly hard and scary but so rewarding in the end. On easter I was baptized, something I didn’t see myself doing for along time, but the timing felt so perfect when the opportunity arose.

In the spring I also fell in love with a university in Manhattan. A place I had passed by many times but didn’t think much of. My school made everyone pick a college from a list of choices to go visit one day. Not knowing much about any college here and having my heart set on Indiana University I picked the “The New School University” because I recognized the name. I could go on and on about why I love this college so much but I’ll save you the time. Long story short, After the first 10 minutes of the tour I knew this was my place. I plan on applying here in the fall and It’s given me another reason to appreciate living here because I would have never found out about this college in Ohio!

Just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any better, I met a very special person. It was like all at once God and the universe or whatever you choose to believe, was giving me gifts and reasons to understand why we moved here and to be thankful for the rainbows that continued to grow after a scary and fierce storm. I had decided that this year was a good chance to take a break from relationships and just focus on my independence and working on myself. It was hard at times but I learned so much about myself with all the time I got to spend by myself and I started to write and pray for what I wanted my next relationship to look like. I had come to a place where I wasn’t interested in having another pointless high school relationship with someone who wasn’t worth my time and I made that extremely clear in my prayers and writing.

At what seemed like the most inconvenient time and a time when I was certainly not looking to start a relationship, I met my best friend Sam! From the first time I hung out with Sam I knew right away he was someone really special and oddly had every characteristic in a person I had been praying for. I got home that day and wanted to scream at and thank the universe and God all at the same time for making our paths cross at this time. 

Our friendship quickly blossomed into more than a friendship which led to a scary and confusing time for the both of us. But after a lot a lot of praying and writing and time together, I knew I couldn’t let Sam go or continue to just be friends. We then decided to head into a long distance relationship for this upcoming year, and It’s been the most beautiful and bittersweet ending to this chapter. But I’m endlessly grateful that I get to bring someone as amazing as Sam into the next one with me!

These last few weeks and days have been really sad but also really magical as I’ve gotten to look back at who I’ve become and what I’ve learned this past year. I think the list could go on, but most importantly I’ve gained a new sense of independence within myself, learned to dream a little bigger, and learned that when life is miserable and hard, there’s always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve learned to find peace in the chaos and joy in the unwanted circumstances. These are lessons I know I will take with me forever.

I’ll never forget my first train ride into Manhattan, feeling an intense spark of wonder because I knew the city was what I made of it. I’ll never forget my first subway rat sightings , the time I got separated from my mom on the subway, my first food truck gyro, dollar pizza, singing welcome to New York the first day we moved, rooftop sunsets, the constant smell of weed and pee, the Plaza, walking the streets in my fur coat, feeling lost, being found, the tears, the laughs, the smiles, the bad times and the good times. They all make this city the spectacular place it was and the place it will always be in my heart.

To my friends In Cincinnati, Thank you for not forgetting about your girl and supporting me through this crazy year even if it was from 700 miles away. I can’t wait to spend senior year with you all!!:)

To my friends and loved ones here in NYC, thank you for filling my heart up with so much love and carrying me through this adventure, I promise you I will be back before you know it!

And lastly, to the city that never sleeps, Thank you for teaching me everything, freeing my soul and opening my eyes up a little bigger. I love you NYC!

Below are some photos to highlight the people and places I mentioned in the Blog!

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One of Ellie and I’s first times into the City when we moved last summer

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Photo taken in September during the “Great NYC apartment hunting adventure”.

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The famous fur coat that made me feel like a New Yorker that all my Ohio friends like to make fun of haha:)

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My life saver, fabulous, life long bff Zoe!

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Our first NYC snow!!!

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An accurate photo of how the Shanklin Girls feel about the NYC subway…

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Just a few of my amazing public school friends!

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My girl Lainie who got me through chemistry, so thankful for our friendship!

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one of many beautiful NYC sunsets.

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My best friend, boyfriend, the one and only Sam:)

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A few of my favorite NYC photos I took over the past year. 

Letting Go. 1/12/19

If you know me well, you know that living in New Jersey for 3 1/2 months in 2018 was extremely difficult for me and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even though it was miserable, I know that that those 3 1/2 months were crucial to my life because they taught me two of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. I hope that my story and knowledge can help and enlighten anyone who’s going through a rough transition right now or in the future. My heart goes out to you.<3

My entire life I’ve been a person who doesn’t like to let go of happy memories or people/relationships that I love. I hug on so tightly to them, I pour my heart out into them  to the point where I still try and live through those memories or pretend the relationships I love most are still right there with me. It’s a coping mechanism, but it isn’t always healthy and it’s made me a very exhausted and sad person at points in my life. For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Cincinnati OH from 6th grade through the end of 10th grade. The relationships and memories I made there were crucial to my life and growing up. In July of 2018 we moved to New Jersey for my dad’s new job in NYC.

It was Extremely hard and painful to leave half way through my high school years,leaving everything I knew and loved behind. In the end I really tried to not to show how sad I was. Metaphorically I forced myself to hide in a cocoon and I convinced myself that as soon as I moved I’d become this new Butterfly who could fly free and happy with a new life. But shortly after moving I realized how hard my life was about to become and how badly I just wanted my best friends! Shortly after settling in our new house I found myself trying to vicariously live through my life in Cincinnati. Trying to maintain all the relationships I had and stay involved with everything. I didn’t want to admit that I had ever moved in the first place. I didn’t even realize how unhealthy this was for me until half way through our time in New Jersey.

Waking up everyday felt like a punch in the stomach. Trying to live two lives became so exhausting. I became so unhappy and miserable. I then started to see a Therapist who shared my same spiritual beliefs and that’s when I realized I was making my life a living hell. I realized that it was a pattern in my life and that it was simply a mindset that I could change. I started praying and believing that somehow my life would get better. That’s when My family and I moved to NYC. Moving here was like being able to come up to the surface and breathe again. It was like putting on new glasses and being able to see clear. Learning to let go of relationships and a life I no longer was apart of, set me free from all the chains I was carrying everyday. I really felt alive and free for the first time in months.

I think in life there’s always this pressure to keep around lots of friends and to have lots of relationships so you don’t look “lonely”, and it’s also extremely hard to except change and be open to it when change involves leaving what you love. But I think it’s so important for us as humans to know that it’s healthy and perfectly ok to let go of relationships that aren’t healthy or benefiting us anymore. This ties into the last important lesson I learned in New Jersey.

A quote that really defines what I learned is “You treat them like they have a heart like yours, But not everyone can be as soft and as tender. You don’t see the person they are, You see the person they have the potential to be. You give and give till they pull everything out of you and leave you empty.” -Rupi Kaur. I really resonate with this quote because it’s a part of who I am. It’s what I’ve struggled with for along time. My therapist taught me that there are two types of people in this world, “Givers” and “Takers”. She helped me see that I was a giver who tended to pour into others who didn’t pour back into me. This gave me a similar feeling as the first lesson, feeling empty and sad when I let myself follow this pattern with relationships.

When I started a new high school in New Jersey I walked in seeing the potential that everyone would be friendly and kind, not the people they actually were. And for that one week, those 5 days, I poured myself out into all those new faces to get nothing in return, to feel hopeless and empty. I felt like I didn’t belong. Just like I and you don’t belong in a relationship with people who take everything out of your cup while you pour everything into their cup. It’s sometimes really hard to let go of relationships like these, but when you stop pouring yourself into empty cups, you’ll notice how much more you have to give to important people and how much happier you can be:).

Thank you for taking the time to Read my blog, It means more than you know! Sending lots of love and happiness everyone’s way<3

-Gracie

Current/Favorite Winter Outfits 12/20/18

Welcome Back to my Blog!<3 Today I’m sharing a few different casual and fancy outfit ideas for the winter! I hope it provides some inspiration! Much Love- Gracie<3.

Look # 1 “Casual and Colorful”

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Colorful Sweater = Zara

Mom Jeans = Forever 21

Shoes= Air Force ones

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Explanation/Advice: This look is very casual yet very happy and bright! Most people associate bright colored clothing for only the spring or summer, but I think it’s fun to wear colors all year round especially when the weather is dark and gloomy.  The light washed jeans make the colorful sweater pop and the white, bright sneakers make the light jeans pop. So overall you can have a bright yet simple outfit.

Look #2  “Glam & edgy”

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Shirt= Golfwang.com

Fur coat = Thrift store

ripped mom Jeans= Urban outfitters

Beanie= urban outfitters

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Explanation/Advice: This has to be one of my favorite outfits because it mixes my two styles together! Edgy and Glam seem like two complete opposite styles but they are easy and super cute to pair together. Any pair of ripped jeans especially mom jeans give the look it’s edgy feel. Beanies are also super trendy and cheap right now. Finding the right color beanie that will pop with your hair color is important too!  I wore a shirt that added some extra color but any tee shirt that coordinates with the jeans works too. Lastly to add the “glam” element I added my fur coat. Fur coats can be pretty pricey but most thrift stores right now have pretty cheap and great fur coats!! You can also check out “zaful.com” for cheap fur coats too. Adding some pretty jewelry and a dark colored lipstick can add more glam to the look.

Look #3 ” Comfy and Classy”

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Black Turtle neck = Old navy

White Sweater= T.J max

Orange pants= Old navy

Black flats= H&M

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This outfit looks sophisticated but also looks comfy and classy! Again the orange pants add a pop of color and sometimes putting two dark colors together can balance the outfit out. In my opinion black turtle necks look so flattering on anybody and mine is a staple that I wear all the time. The fuzzy sweater is also a staple I think anybody could use because it can match with almost any outfit! With this type of look I think the shoes could make or break the outfit. The flats add the sophisticated feel to the outfit but you could add a pair of white sneakers to give a more laid back feel or even add black heels to dress it up!

Look #4 “Fun and Fancy”

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Leather jacket= Tommy Hilfiger

Polka dot shirt = Forever 21

Denim skirt = Target

Belt= Urban Outfitters

Boots= Blundstone USA

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Explanation/Advice: First off EVERYBODY needs a black denim skirt and a leather jacket in their closet because you can always pair those two with anything and look like a million bucks!! I love this outfit because you can dress it up or dress it down. It doesn’t have much color but sometimes wearing a lot of black looks super fancy and edgy. I think the polka dots make the outfit more playful so adding any type of pattern to an outfit like this is also a good idea. Lastly by adding a Belt or any other accessories, it makes the outfit extra and fun!

Look #5 “Professional & Playful”

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Shirt= Calvin Klein

Pants= Zara

Blazer= Thrift Store

Neck Scarf= Thrift Store

Boots= Blundstone USA

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Explanation/Advice: This outfit is so fun and playful and one of my favorites because it looks very professional but also super trendy and colorful! These Gingham pants are in almost every store now so they are super easy to find and they make any outfit look professional. Any black or white shirt will pop with the Gingham pants. Blazers are also very trendy now and you can dress them up or dress them down as well. I’m obsessed with bright colored blazers because you can add them to any black or white outfit and look amazing! Blazers are another piece of clothing that thrift stores have a great selection of. This one is vintage from the 80’s which you can easily find at a thrift store! Lastly the neck scarfs/ handkerchiefs got super popular over the summer and they look so fun with most outfits!! Thrift stores usually  have a super great and cheap collection of them!

11/11/18 Breathe.

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It’s Saturday afternoon, I’m sitting on a little hill with a view of mountains, fall colors, the ability to just breathe and a sunset in Connecticut. It’s always so amazing and weird to leave the city and be in nature and quiet. You never get quiet in the city, life never slows down. So sometimes I forget that there’s another slower life out there. Lately I’ve noticed myself daydreaming all the time about my life in the future. What college I’ll go to, where I’ll live, what job I’ll have, I have ideas and dreams of what I want but as I’ve learned very well, nothing turns out the way you think it will. I feel like i’m in this weird holding point until my life seems like it will really start, once i leave home. Junior year is weird because you start really thinking about your future and you feel so close to it, like you can almost just reach it but you aren’t quite there yet.

Every day I take the subway to school. I’m squished between people on every side of every race and every background and social class and that’s when I feel most away from home but also the most grown up. If you can navigate the NYC subway system and feel comfortable enough to take it all the time you might just be ready for whatever life throws at you. Some of my scariest moments have been on the subway but some of the most beautiful moments have been on the subway. When you catch a baby smiling at you or you get a chance to just close your eyes for a minute and take a deep breath or my favorite, watching a person who doesn’t have much give what little they have to a person begging for money. That will easily bring you to tears.

Another amazing thing about NYC is that almost everyone comes to perform here. Ellie and I went to see one of our favorite bands “LANY” last weekend. I’ve found that when i’m at a concert hearing the music that i’ve listened to in my ear buds 100 times or the music that has gotten me through the hard times and good times, that’s when i’m most happiest. Music is so spiritual and influential in my life, I don’t even think i’d be the person I am today without it. So the fact that I have these opportunities to hear live music is something i’m so thankful for. Three of my favorite songs right now that help me meditate or just stop and breathe that I highly recommend are “To build a home” by The Cinematic Orchestra, “Revelation” by Troye Sivan and “Ballad of the dying man” by Father John Misty. Taking walks through the Upper West side and listening to this beautiful music is what really helps me get through these tough times.

I think some days it really just feels like a race to the finish line. The day I have my dream job, a perfect life partner, a family, a filled up passport, etc. Somedays dreaming about that future life I think is good because it motivates me to work hard, it brings me joy and it helps me block out all the negative energy knowing how successful I can be one day. But some days I think we all have to remember that it’s not a race. It might be hard right now but you are going through your current journey to help prepare you for the next Journey. I’ve been thinking about how fast life goes. One day you might look back on this moment and really wish you could go back to it.

So don’t take anything for granted, slow down, enjoy the life you are living and just BREATHE.

 

10/22/18 When The Story Ends

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“Why Is It That When The Story Ends We Begin To Feel All Of It” -Rupi Kaur

I’ve struggled with this my whole life. I’ve struggled with learning how to be happy with my memories and experiences with people instead of being sad that it’s over. One of my least favorite parts of life is going through days or weeks or even years of missing moments, people and wishing you could have something you can’t have. As of right now I have a love/hate relationship with New York city. I love the views, I love feeling so free as I walk down the big streets wearing whatever I want. But I hate that it’s taking so long to find a purpose and belonging here. It’s ironic that I feel the most lonely in the biggest city in America. I recently went back home to celebrate my birthday. I have the best friends in the entire world back home which just makes this even harder. As I walked to my gate in the airport Sunday night, my life felt like a sad scene in a movie. I was listening to “Bad religion” by Frank Ocean as people passed me by. I walked fast but everything seemed to be going slow, because the only thing that mattered was what I was leaving behind. You haven’t felt awkwardness until your squished between two men having a mini panic attack, holding back tears on an airplane haha.

There’s the pain of sadness, but no one prepares you for the pain of heartbreak. You can’t be prepared for the physical pain you feel in your heart. It feels as if your heart is drowning in it’s own blood as it slowly breaks apart. Heart break comes in all shapes and sizes and leaving home this weekend was mine. My favorite quote of all time is “What is stronger than the human heart which shatters over and over and still lives.” In a way our hearts are like newborn babies and we will do anything to protect our hearts from the big scary world. But then our hearts grow up like babies grow up and we can’t always stop it from getting hurt or broken, and we can’t control who our heart’s meet and who touches our hearts and souls for better or for worse. But we do know, no matter how many times our heart’s shatter they still live, they just grow stronger. Sometimes we have to put band aids and boundaries on our hearts to fix them again just like children. Sometimes you have to stack on the band aids while your heart is healing. It hurts to rip the band aids off when it’s time. But we have to believe and trust that the right people will help us rip the band aids off fast so that our hearts can love again. Thats the way I’ve learned how to heal. 

This post was personal and raw. But I do this because if at least one person can relate or become inspired by my writing than I’ll be happy.

-All my love -Gracie.

10/9/18 My Story

IMG_2127As an almost 17 year old, I’d like to think I’ve lived a lot of life, or that I have all the answers, but I don’t, at least not yet. In my 17 years on this earth, I’ve lived in a lot of places,  I’ve met a lot of people,  I’ve experienced high and low points, I’ve picked up some pretty amazing friends, and I’ve learned a lot. Although, in my 17 years of life I’ve never experienced what I’m going through now. For so long I believed my story began October 18th 2001, but now I’m realizing this year, this transition, and this move is only the beginning to the Gracie Story. I started this Blog to take you all along on my adventure and share with you my love for life, traveling, fashion and writing.

Everything up to this Point:

Now that you know why I’ve started this Blog, I’ll share a little bit about my life before the move to New Jersey/New York. I was born In Indiana and I was brought into this world by the two greatest people I’ve ever met (aka my parents). They lived in a little apartment above a garage, my dad was a youth group leader and my mom worked as an office assistant, so it’s kinda crazy how 17 years later we’ve landed in NYC. Shortly after I was born, my parents had my sister Ellie. Not sure how they raised two kids 16 months apart but they did! Then when we were just toddlers my parents packed up our lives and we moved all the way to Los Angeles, California. This was the beginning of my childhood always being on the move. We lived in California for a less than a year, and then it was time to move again. We moved to Nashville Tennesse for three years where I spent my time running around in pink cowboy boots and going to Grand Ole Opry shows almost every weekend. But after a short time, we knew it was time to move back to the small town of Fort Wayne Indiana where all of our family lived.

I spent kindergarten through 5th grade in Indiana playing barbies with my sister, having dreams of going to a local college, and growing up a small town girl. For six years that’s all I knew and all I wanted but I wouldn’t be the person I am today if we wouldn’t have left safe and small Indiana. One day towards the end of 5th grade, my dad got offered a job to be a proffesor and teacher at Xavier University in Cincinnati Ohio. I didn’t even have to think twice about moving this time. All I knew was that Cincinnati was bigger than Fort Wayne and that sold me. So here we were again saying goodbye to friends and family, packing up our life and moving four hours down to Cincinnati. Long story short, moving to Cincinnati was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met my best friends in the entire world, went to an awesome Montessori school, and joined a killer youth group. We started fostering a 2 year old girl who became my 2nd sister and I had many opportunities to travel to places like the Bahamas, Utah, Church camp, and China. I could genuinely say I loved my life. Yes there was some low points because what high schooler doesn’t have low points, but by the second semester of sophomore year I was having the time of life.

All my friends could drive so I spent all my weekends with my friends, I had a job and I was starting to feel like I was finding my passions like fashion, politics, women rights and volunteering. But then one spring day in March I was on a hike with my friends when my dad called me, and little did I know my life was about to change forever. A few weeks before this day he went to NYC to do work with a company, but we all just figured it was just a project he’d work on from home. But when he called me, he told me he was offered a job, his dream job, which meant we would be moving to NYC. I remember crying right after that. Tears of excitement because “OH MY GOSH NYC!!” but also tears of sadness because I would have to leave the life I was falling in love with behind. For the rest of sophomore year I went through phases of being really excited and then phases of being really sad and angry. But then things started to change for me. For most of High school I really struggled with self identity and self love. But after my trip to China in June, something clicked for me. I felt love for myself and for my surroundings like never before.  Experiencing another part of the world gave me the chance to see a side of myself I had never seen before, and gain a new perspective on life. I had a really clear vision of who I wanted to be. I’m forever grateful for that because it prepared me for the biggest change in my life, and it’s shaped the person I am today. With all that to say, The move has been HARD. It’s been hell to feel so isolated from my best friends. We decided to move to a suburb outside of the city in New Jersey for a better school, but things haven’t worked out at all. It’s almost like I’ve been in this transition period for three months and its been the toughest time of my entire life. But as we pack up and move to South Harlem NYC in just a few days, I have this beautiful feeling that my story is just about to begin, and that everything I just told you about my life was preparing me for this moment. This next chapter is a big one and I can’t wait to take you all along.

– Gracie