“The most important thing you can do for yourself is put yourself and your own needs before anything else.”

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Claire C. Stein, Staff Writer

Like everything I have written in newspaper, the hardest part is knowing how to start your story, and this is no exception — but this time I have the task of writing about myself. So, let’s go back to the beginning of it all. 

August, 21 2017: eclipse day. All of us scattered around the football field just 14 years old, meeting people from the opposing middle school and finally seeing what high school is all about. 

Although many people do not agree with me, I think freshman year was the most fun year in high school. I took classes unlike any I had taken in middle school, went to every football game, got involved in school sports, made real connections with my teachers and met so many people that I will remember forever. I remember feeling so grown up.

Then sophomore year hit. For the first time in my life, my classes actually challenged me. With all the homework and mental breakdowns, I learned how to manage my time really well. This allowed me to make unforgettable memories like getting my driver’s license, making Taco Bell runs at 2 a.m. and blasting music in the car all night. 

When junior year started my schedule was set: school, friends, homework, sleep, repeat. All I wanted to do was leave Kansas. My friends and I had exhausted all our ideas and we were burnt out. Our only hope was Spring Break. However, on March 10 I got a cough, and on March 13 I had a fever, and on March 14, I lost my sense of taste — and my life changed forever. 

As extended Spring Breaks turned into lockdowns, and in-person turned into online, the life we knew was gone. 

After four weeks of at-home workouts and sold out toilet paper I spent some time with people that I haven’t talked to in months, and just like that, a new friend group was created. That summer I spent my time with the most genuine friends I have ever known. We lived life like we never had before. When senior year started I got to join newspaper staff, was in the CAPS: CNA program and was working a job again. Fall sports had just started, and life was good. 

Right as I was getting used to things, once again my life changed forever. I was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on Sept. 25, and just three months later diagnosed with Celiac Disease on Dec. 19, 2020, on my 18th birthday.

High school has taught me many lessons, dealing with drama, bad friends, all the cliche things said in the movies — but senior year has taught me the most impactful things I will take with me into the future. 

We will all be faced with hardships — it is inevitable. We all just have to figure out the best way for us to move past them, and the only way to figure that out is by taking it head on and not being afraid to ask for help. 

The most important thing you can do for yourself is put yourself and your own needs before anything else. Whatever it is — your happiness, your health — once you resolve those problems you can put your energy into other things and other people. Real friends will stay by your side in times of need. When you are at your lowest, they will aid you in building yourself back up, and soon your friends will become a second family. 

I now find myself wishing I had more time in Kansas than the short months we have before our separate lives begin and the memories we all shared in Blue Valley are left within its walls. During this time, spend time with your friends, your family and your pets, and make some more unforgettable memories. Take some time to realize all the good things, and go into the next chapter confident and unafraid of the life you will lead from May 22, 2021 and on.