On my birthday, I sit here reflecting and thinking about the past year I have just experienced. 18 was filled with many ups and downs, new beginnings, sad endings, and several changes.

I am so thankful for all that this year has brought me and for what I have learned from it all. All of the lessons I have learned are definitely the greatest birthday gifts I could ask for.

Out of all of the things life has taught me in my 18th year, the lesson that I value the most is how lucky I am.

With leaving for college last fall and meeting so many new people, I now know that no one will ever be able to compare to my four best friends.

We all go to different colleges, but whenever we are reunited over breaks, it is like we were never apart. They are all so special and unique in their own way. I am so blessed to have each of them in my life and for the person they have made me into.

They really do bring out the best in me and support me in all that I do. I truly believe that I would not be the same person I am today without them. No one can make me laugh the way that they do, and I will forever cherish all of the giggles that we have shared over the past few years.

I have also recognized how lucky I am to have the opportunity to get an education at such an amazing college. I can not thank my parents enough for being able to send me to college and for supporting me along every step of the way.

I have realized how important family is, and how important it is to spend quality time with one another because I do not get to see them as much as I am used to.

I am so happy in my major, doing what I love to do, and will always feel lucky to be happy in this way. A lot of people go into college unsure of what they want to do with their lives, so I am thankful that I am enjoying my path so far, and can not wait to continue all of it.

This has also brought me to the conclusion of how different people are from one another. I know that everyone has different interest and talents, which has made me really appreciate individualism. Specifically, in college, everyone is able to embrace their inner self and really let their identity shine.

Through ending my seven years of competitive dancing, I realized how amazing it was to have a place like that to call my second home.

There was no one else I would rather spend endless hours rehearsing with, sweating so much with, and celebrating amazing performances with. I gained such a strong support system through dance, had amazing role models, realized the importance of giving back, and developed a new sense of happiness. I can not be more thankful for how much dance impacted me.

18 was an amazing journey, and I can not wait to see what nineteen has in store for me.