I refer to this next guest poster as a better version of "Carrie Bradshaw." Lauren is driven, motivated, and a real life friend whom I thank God for each and every day. Miss Lauren (LC) is the one who inspired me to pick up writing again after a very long while. I am convinced: If the world needs anything, it needs more people like Lauren. Oh, and she is newly engaged! LC does not have a blog of her own yet but I think we can work on coaxing her into one... Thank you Lauren for writing this post!

A little over a year ago, I had a column in Assumption College’s newspaper (which I passed on to the lovely Hannah when I graduated). Being an avid Sex and the City fan, I took the Carrie Bradshaw approach to my column- reflecting on life, love, family, relationships and anything else that fell into that category. I believe very strongly in one of Carrie’s quotes: "The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself," which I used to kick off my column.

Here’s one big thing I discovered: the relationship with yourself is hard.

Throughout college, I felt I was driven by something else, something that set me apart. I never really had an interest in going out and partying like the rest of my classmates- I enjoyed spending my time studying and writing, found my solace in working out and running, and dedicated myself to my work so I would be ready for the next big thing, whatever that may have been. I was waiting for that big moment- the life-changing one, the one that would take life as I knew it, and everything and everyone, to another level.

I had a few ideas about what that moment would be: finding my dream job, falling in love, getting engaged (and of course my future wedding), or maybe something that hadn’t yet crossed my mind. Essentially, I was in a state of limbo- I struggled for a while with being different, and then I accepted it. I learned it was okay to say no to people- no, I don’t want to go to the bar. No, I don’t want to stay up all night. Yes, I want to go home and see my family instead. Yes, I’m going to stay in and watch a movie.

Saying no is a hard thing to do for a lot of people, but until you can, you might be torn, as I was, between going along with the crowd and doing what you really want to do. It wasn’t easy, especially since I was the minority in a large group of 21 and 22-year-olds who wanted to live it up almost every single night in college (which is great, don’t get me wrong- when else do you have a chance to do that? To each his or her own.)

But that wasn’t me. I counted the days until graduation, nervous for what the future would bring but at the same time ready to run out the door and face the world- and have my moment. I spent my senior year working on that relationship with myself and through the achievements, tears, heartbreak, minor (and major) drama and support from my family and friends, I came a long way, learning to love myself and all I had accomplished.

And eight months after graduation- I had my moment. Maybe it’s better phrased as a series of “moments” that combined, got me to the defining point in my life. My life was a whirlwind after graduation- I started dating my now fiancé, quickly fell in love, had several jobs which led me to my dream job and figured out who my true friends were- those who stuck by me. Things got better and better, and then on March 21, the day Matt proposed, everything truly fell into place and I could see exactly where my life was headed.

I couldn’t be happier now, but I did face challenges along the way.  I’ve had friendships that were on the rocks because of differing viewpoints and lifestyles, and I’ve dealt with the inevitable separation from my high school and college friends since our lives are taking different directions. I was frustrated at first when I worked at a job that wasn’t quite right and very stressful, and did everything I could to change that, too.

Is my journey of self-discovery over? Absolutely not. I am much more confident in who I am, I’ve weeded out a lot of the drama in my life, and I’m truly, truly happy. I know I have the strength to face any more challenges that may cross my path.

My advice: above all else, work on that relationship with yourself. Devote time to it, cherish it, relish in the fact that you and you alone control defining who you are. Say what you mean. Surround yourself with those who bring you up and make you a better person, not those who inhibit you. Believe in true love. Believe that love can change you. Look for your dream job, or something to dedicate your life to, follow your passion and don’t settle for anything less than absolutely everything you deserve. Quite simply- follow your heart.

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