To My Best Friends On Valentine's Day...

To My Best Friends On Valentine's Day...

This one is for you.
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(Beware...this will be a very cheesy article)

To my very best girlfriends on the planet, this Valentine's Day I am celebrating you!

While off studying abroad, I have had the wonderful opportunity to sit, people watch and reflect on this incredible life that I am currently living in. The people, the places, the food and the love that is shared on this earth truly takes my breath away.

Over the past couple of years, I feel I truly have found "my people". It is exciting walking through this journey and meeting new fantastic people who I couldn't imagine my life without.

My question for you is, why do we only celebrate couples on Valentine's Day? I absolutely hate hearing about "anti-Valentine's Day parties" and "anti-love" because there is so much love and hope to be spread. Let's forget about the "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" word and how about we take time to celebrate the amazing friends we have in our lives that make our heart happier than it possibly could be? This day is for YOU!

Heard of Galentine? I think yes.

Unless you are living in some paradise in February, well then you can totally disregard this thought but where I come from, February is one of the absolute worst months of the year. It is cold, dull and boring. Valentine's Day lightens up the grocery stores with its hot pink decorations and smell of Dove dark chocolate. It is that event that everyone plans for a little too long because they have nothing else to do.

So what can you do with your gal-pals this Valentine's Day? With my new Galentines overseas, we will be going to Fifty Shades Freed (cheesy I know) and will be going out to dinner and buying chocolate. While the motions of Valentine's day are very overrated, it can be something that is fun to look forward to even if you are buying flowers for yourself or your best friend.

Valentine's Day is not a competition, and I feel some people treat it as one. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of this holiday to out-shop other couples or to buy the most expensive gifts and I feel that leaves a whole lot of room for disappointment. It is NOT a competition. This is a day I will be sending extra love, compliments and sharing the thankfulness in my heart with my loved ones. All we need is reassurance that you are appreciated. Let's all stop with the crazy and outrageous gifts and focus on the true meaning of love for others.

To my very best friends and people who make me laugh, cry and feel pure joy, this Valentine's Day is strictly for you. All my Galentines out there...thank you so much for being you and for putting such a positive outlook on my life. I cannot wait to tell you all how much you mean to me!


xoxo

Grace Rigdon

Cover Image Credit: Grace Rigdon

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Dear Freshman Year Roommate, Thank You For Being Someone I Always Looked Forward To Hanging Out With

From the first moment we met and bonded over our love for bubble tea, I knew our friendship was going to be special.

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When I was applying for college, I was concerned with supplemental essays, SAT scores, scholarship applications and letters of recommendation. I never took a moment to stop and wonder "What happens once I get in?"

Finally, the fateful day arrived where I made my college decision. I bought a sweatshirt from the George Washington University store. My mom decorated my High School locker with our colors. And most importantly, I sighed a breath of relief imagining how refreshing it was going to be to ride out the rest of my senior year without the stress of college deadlines weighing on my shoulders.

Unfortunately, that blissful serenity was cut short when I joined a Facebook group of admitted students, where profiles of smiling teenagers flashed on my screen accompanied with the fateful "I'm looking for a roommate."

A roommate. I obviously knew that I needed a roommate. It was common sense, yet for some reason, I had failed to consider the logistics of finding a roommate until that moment.

See, my mom helped me through my college process, but times were different back then. She described showing up to her college on the first day, not knowing who she had been randomly assigned. There was no Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram to help you communicate with the girls on the other side of the country-- or sometimes even on the other side of the world.

This was a new, unexplored territory where my mother's wealth of knowledge sadly fell short.

Lucky for me, I was accepted into an honors program which restricted the list of girls available to be my roommate to a list of about twenty-five. We created a google document which asked basic questions like "Are you a night owl or earlier riser?"

Even still, I had no idea how to pick someone who I would be compatible to live with for the next year of my life. The stakes felt high, but I was reassured by the fact that I grew up sharing a room with my siblings, learning some important skills about being low-maintenance and tolerant of others' habits.

I read through the list and found someone whose answers sounded similar to mine, figuring we had enough in common to be amicable, if nothing more, throughout the school year. Her name was Riya, and she had a cute Instagram, so I messaged her asking if she wanted to try and room together. She agreed and we put each other down as roommates when applying for housing.

Looking back, that decision was the best one that I made when preparing for GW.

Throughout my freshman year, I have heard horror stories about roommates who fight all the time, steal each other's clothes, refuse to clean or try and micromanage the other's sleep schedule.

All the while, I count my lucky stars that my roommate is not only sane but someone who I genuinely look forward to spending time with. We share ice cream and inside jokes. When the weather was heating up and the university refused to turn on the air conditioning, we even shared our fans.

It comforts me to know that at the end of even the worst days, I can come back to my room and laugh or cry (sometimes both) with her by my side.

I remember once, I was having trouble with another group of friends. I felt alone and isolated. I felt like there was nobody who I could talk to apart from my mom or my best friend from home, who are both supportive and incredible but don't know any of the characters in my life in the same way as someone here at school.

I have a bad habit of struggling to reach out to people when I'm going through something, figuring I am strong enough to handle it on my own.

While that may sometimes be true, thanks to Riya, I didn't have to. I ended up telling her everything. She listened to me rant, understanding how I was hurt, and advising me on the situation.

I felt so much better after our conversation, and the best part was, I didn't have to leave the comfort of my bed for the entire conversation.

Her friendship reminded me of my family, and honestly, she has acted like a sister to me over the past two semesters.

It is so wild reflecting on the year, knowing that next semester we will be going our separate ways, living with respective friends in buildings a couple of blocks away from each other.

However, even when the posters are off the walls and signs reading "Riya" and "Emilie Joe" no longer stick to the outside of our door, I know that the bond we created in room 217 will never leave us.

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