In elementary school, all I wanted to do was be in high school with long blonde hair, cute boots, the newest phone, and all the friends. I wanted to "have it all." Then, junior high started and I decided that all of those things were superficial. I decided that posting tons of pictures on Instagram and telling the world what I was doing all the time was just so "fake." To me, people share the good times with everyone to make themselves believe that their life is perfect. I was "real." I was "mature." I was "secure." I didn't need to have everyone's approval to be happy. Ninth grade started and I had a new phone, the cute boots, I posted things on Instagram, and I had a group of good friends. For a little bit, I did it for the looks and the likes.

September 27, 2016, I began to have a migraine. In the beginning, it was nice, minus the pounding head, to be away from everyone and have a break from the drama. But then I got lonely, I got behind in schoolwork, I didn't see my friends much, and life got tough. In a way, it's a blessing to not be at school with everyone all the time. It makes seeing them so much sweeter and more precious. And now, I appreciate nice things, like cute boots, because with all the medical expenses, I understand the value of a dollar. I'm grateful for the new phone, so I can contact my parents if I were to have an emergency. I am so beyond thankful for the friends who encourage me and help me hold onto hope.

I'm beginning to realize that there are more than two types of people in the world. There aren't just the stereotypes and the "odd" ones. Everyone has a story, and not everyone wears it on their sleeve, so we shouldn't judge when all we see is the face they put on. Now I know that there are people that just appreciate life and want to share that.

When I was younger, in church I would hear the pastor say, "If you haven't had a rough patch in your life yet, you will have one. It is inevitable. But God will be your rock." I used to think that I had already gone through rough patches. I didn't get invited to every party and I didn't always make the best grade. God showed me, didn't He? I've learned to appreciate the small things. Now, every time I see my friends, I get to genuinely smile, say "Hey, how are you?" and hug them. I'm thankful for the opportunity to experience life as someone who only has God to hold onto. In 2017, I didn't do a great job of that. I got angry, mad, and confused, I doubted, and I blamed. "I eat right. I don't take tons of medicine, so why aren't these working? I don't do drugs. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I work out. I'm healthy. I laugh a lot. I make good grades. I play sports. Why me? Why this long? Why this migraine?"

But this year is a new year, and I do have hope that I will find relief this year — whether mentally, physically, spiritually, all of the above, or combination of two. And I'm choosing joy. I'm choosing to be happy. I'm choosing to see the light in the tunnel. I'm choosing to count my blessings. I'm choosing to be genuine. I'm choosing to strive to better myself every day. And I'm choosing to be that cliché that posts about it. But not because I want the likes or want to rub in your face what I'm doing. I'm going to post things to help remind myself to choose to be positive, to show you what my life is like, even when it isn't all butterflies and cupcakes, to share some love, and to hopefully encourage you to choose joy too. Because joy only comes from knowing the truth. And God is truth. I have a truth in Jesus that I will find relief one day and that joy will be far greater than the suffering that I am enduring right now. I'm going to find pure joy in the small stuff, not sweat any stuff, and give God all my stuff.