Some of the best and worst things have happened to me in 2018, or really just in the past four months. I used to tell all of my friends that 2018 was definitely the worst year of my life so far... but I've come to realize that it might have been the best for all that it has taught me. 2018 was the year I truly became an adult. Because of everything that I've done or has happened to me, I have become a better person, a more mature person, and I've realized more about myself than I ever knew before.

The start of 2018 was great. I loved freshman year of college. I had a solid group of friends, I was working really hard at school, and the end of the semester went well.

Over spring break, I got to go to Florida to surprise my grandparents with the wedding they always dreamt of. It was one of the happiest days of my life to see my grandparents get this wonderful gift that they truly deserved. (See article "Life Isn't Forever, But Family Is").

In the summer, I got to go on my first trip out of the country. I was lucky enough to be invited on a 10 day trip to Ireland with one of my best friends from high school and her family. I had the best time and made memories I'll never forget. I learned new history and new culture.

I worked two jobs that summer which meant I was busy a lot, but it taught me how to manage my time. I loved working at the pizzeria in my home town and being a part of a crazy Italian family business. I nannied for a girl who lived 5 minutes from me. I spent all my time saving my money, working hard, hanging with my boyfriend and friends without a care in the world. I learned how to time manage.

The fall semester came and everything went to crap. I moved into my awful triple with two of my best friends at school. The room was small, and far away from everything on campus. Towards the end of the semester, we even had mice...You had to climb a huge hill to get there, moving in was hectic, our bathroom always smelt like drugs and our washer leaked every other week. It was fine for a while. We lived across the hall from two of my best guy friends. It was very much like "Friends". I even started to like it for a little bit once I got past all of the grossness.

Then a huge bump in the road came along. My housing for my junior year got a little messed up. I was having a lot of problems. A lot of change was happening without me really knowing it. It had a big effect on me, my self-esteem, my happiness for quite a while. Which was stupid. I knew better than to let something so minuscule get to me like that. But it did. I didn't feel good at school for a long time.

However, that situation taught me to adapt better. It brought me closer to people I didn't think I'd ever become close to. It made some of the friendships I already had even stronger as well. I realized that the people I went to vent and cry to were the most amazing people in my life. My best friends from home, my family, my boyfriend; I realized how much they really meant to me. I grew a pair and decided to try and get over all of my stupid insecurity crap and move on.

Then my grandmother passed. That was really terrible. Anyone who has lost someone close to them knows that. I cried a lot, of course. Going to a funeral and wake was not what I wanted or needed. It was awful to see my grandmother like that. It was awful to watch my family grieve. But, it taught me to hold onto the ones I loved. You know, the ones I mentioned before? As I've said in a previous article life isn't forever, but family is. And it made me realize nothing can be the same forever-so again I learned to adapt and appreciate.

Then my sister got married! Yay! Something happy and fun! I was crying again, but out of joy. I watched her walk down the aisle looking gorgeous to marry the man I knew would make her happy for the rest of her life. All of the people I loved were in one place at one time. I danced my cares away and saw my sister at her happiest. It was probably the highlight of the year for me. This taught me how to be happy again.

I was home a lot, because of everything that was going on... and though most would think that that's not fun or good, it really helped me through my rough patch. I got to be with my boyfriend more, so the weight of being in a long-distance relationship was lifted off my shoulders at least for a little while, and I felt as though everyone's support through the good and bad times was going to help me get back to my old self.

I moved out of my awful room, (I am studying abroad and typing this from my fabulous apartment in Florence, Italy), and finally got to be home for the holidays. Christmas was weird. It was the first year I didn't have either of my sisters in the house with me Christmas Eve into Christmas Morning. Instead of me crawling into bed with both of them or at least one of them for a couple of years, I just got out of bed and went down to the tree by myself. At whatever time I wanted. My parents watched me open gifts and it wasn't bad-just different. It felt like a chapter of my childhood was ending. They still came over later with their husbands and shared the day with us, but it was different. It showed me that my family was going to change a lot and that I needed to get used to it. It taught me to grow up.

I turned 20 shortly after. I can't even begin to tell you how weird that is. There is NO WAY that I have lived through two decades, that's just false.

Then, I found out I was going to be an aunt. My oldest sister announced that she is pregnant. And now, I'm crying again. A new member of the family. All is well in the world...

Not. Just when everything is good, I'm woken up at 8 am by my mom telling me we have to put my dog, Frankie, down. Even though this technically happened in 2019, it really should belong in 2018-the year from hell. A day before I'm getting on a plane to Italy to start a four-month journey I've been looking forward to forever, I have to say goodbye to my best friend in the whole world.

I have had my puppy since I was six years old. We had him for exactly 14 years and he was my playmate when my sisters moved out, my snuggle buddy at night... He had problems for quite some time, but I wasn't expecting this now. We only took him to the vet to see if his legs were okay since he was having trouble getting down the stairs and jumping onto the couch, but there was much more to it. I didn't recognize him. His behavior was off, he could barely stand on his last day, he couldn't hear or see... that wasn't my boy.

I don't think I've ever felt so much pain. I truly think watching him go was the saddest I've ever been in my life. Coming home to an empty house with no more dog beds, seeing his bowl and treats but not having him to give it to. And I haven't even really dealt with it! How can your heart hurt from thousands of miles away?

Anyway, so much has happened to me, and I have changed a lot because of it. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm okay, if I'm proud of myself or just faking it really well... But all in all, 2018 was an emotional rollercoaster. Now that I'm in Italy, I feel like I can start all over again.

I realize people have had worse years, and much more awful things happen to them, and much greater things as well, but what can I say? I've had a pretty amazing life. I wasn't used to having bumps in the road really. It was the first year I was dealing with anything truly difficult. I know that I'm privileged and don't know real struggle, but I do know that I am familiar with loss. Loss of family, friends, furry little brothers. I do know that I am capable of being happy and using that happiness to bring it to other people, but it took a weird year like 2018 to get me here.

In 2019, I will have traveled all over Europe with strangers who I hope will become some of my great friends. In 2019, I will be a better friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister, student, and most importantly a new AUNT! 2019 will be one of the best years of my life, but that is only so because 2018 was one of the weirdest/worst.

Anyway, thanks for being my diary this week.