‘And in a sort of twisted way, you’ll probably be a little thankful for everything that beat you down.’

I didn’t go to Blue Valley all four years. I moved to Overland Park halfway through sophomore year from Houston.

It was a rough transition to put it lightly. I didn’t have any friends, obviously. I didn’t fit in. And, I certainly didn’t understand the proper manners of “the bubble.”

But, I had Mrs. Huss, my cousin, who let me be awkward in her room and tried to ease the pain of being “New Girl.” I joined track, which I was terrible at, and made some friends.

That following summer, along with other tragedies, my father died.

So, coming back to BV was hard, needless to say. My support group was small, and I still didn’t fit in.

I was in Photo I first semester, and things started looking up. I was not very good. I took pictures of my dog, and a lot of them were out of focus. But it gave me something to think about and work on, which was what I needed. Mr. Johnston was overwhelmingly helpful and supportive, which I will always be thankful for.

I submitted a couple of my photos to Scholastics and placed. It was incredible. I started to like something in Overland Park, and I got positive feedback. I won a dang award.

Second semester I took Digital Imaging. I loved it. Mr. Mosier was finally a teacher who would be brutally honest and accept my sass as I started to break out of my shell.

I made my best friends. Thank every single god I got them.

They were real. I had real friends in Kansas.

I had three whole people outside of my family I could talk to. Three people who would let me rant, give me hugs and get coffee with me. Three people who let me take pictures of them and helped me along the way.

Now, I had friends and art. I was on the rise. I was no longer “New Girl.”

But, it was brutal. The first year I was here was the worst year of my life.

You might be having my year. You might be 16 and pretty terrible at everything you try.

Keep trying. It’s going to take some time. But you’ll make real friends — you’ll find something that lights a spark in you. Everyone I know has.

High school wasn’t fun. But it made me, me.