As I took those monumental and scary first steps into college life, I knew I was going to change and grow as a person through my 4 years as Iowa State. At the time I had no idea what was in store for me, but I can confidently say that the challenges I've faced and the triumphs I've experienced, have shaped me into a new and more evolved version of myself.

Most people experience the most change throughout their freshman year, but the most substantial period of growth in my life has been, surprisingly, within the last few months.

Just like any incremental change, I can't put my finger on the exact moment or circumstance that inspired it, but it was probably a culmination of my overwhelmingly busy schedule, conversations with my mom, and the hundreds of inspirational podcasts I have decided to listen to recently. Whatever it was, it resulted in a change that finally allowed me to be able to live for myself.

This phrase is absolutely cliché, but that doesn't make it any less true. Not only have I always tried to control every minor detail of my own life, but I have tended to try to control the choices that the people around me make, and that is an extremely unhealthy way to live.I have realized that I literally cannot control anything in my life except my own choices, and I need to be content with that.

This leads to having a mindset where I recognize exactly what is best for my life and base all my decisions off that alone. Not too long ago, it would take an extensive amount of time for me to make an altogether insignificant decision. I would be deeply rooted in fear of how my decision was going to affect the thoughts and decisions of the people around me. This caused me to be anxious, indecisive, and often unhappy with my choices or circumstances because, in the end, they were based on other people.

Next semester I hope to study abroad, and I know that a year ago I would have never been able to make that decision without asking everyone in my life what their plans were for next semester and considering how being gone would affect what they would do. I saw this pattern occurring on a daily basis until I realized that being so concerned with the choices of other people was robbing me of the experiences I wanted to have. I am deciding to live every day with the courage and self-love that it takes to recognize what I want and what would be best for me, and then make the choices that will let those aspects of my life flourish.

This has not made me a selfish person, as I still believe acts of service and considering others are some of the most important things for a person to do. However, I have started realizing that I need to choose what I ultimately want, and if the people around me choose to go another way, that is okay. Through doing this I have seen my independence, bravery, and self-love all beginning to grow more than I could have ever imagined in the past. I see this as a way of letting go of my grip on life, and it has been one of the greatest mindsets I have ever adopted. I am excited to see the adventures it will take me on, the sense of purpose it will bring me, and the calmer inner voice that it will give me.