For those who know me, you know the challenges I've endured this year, but for those who don't, I wanted to be completely vulnerable and transparent with you in writing this.

2018 was by far the hardest year of my life, and when I say hard, I mean gut-wrenching, back-breaking, and truly incomprehensible. I entered college with a solid head on my shoulders, and being a Christian, I had certain values that I planned on always sticking to. However, going into my second semester of college in January, I found myself uncertain of who I was supposed to be. I began to waver from my core values, and I lost sight of God's overall plan for my life. My uncertainty led to me clinging on to people who didn't have my best interest at heart, and also had me unintentionally placing myself in dangerous situations that I still bear the scars of today.

At that point, I felt so alone.

But, just when I thought things couldn't get worse, another thing hit me, and it hit hard.

I remember the day just like it was yesterday.

My mom called me saying she had bad news--News that my stepdad had a sudden heart attack and passed away.

Every time I think back to that moment, I cry. I cry because I remember how I felt the first time my mom told me and my little sister the news that my biological father had passed away from his long battle with sickle-cell. I cry because I think back to my last text messages with stepdad the day before and how I had meant to call him that night. I cry thinking about my step-siblings and how they no longer have a father either. I cry for my mom who has had to endure that type of pain two times over.

Days and weeks passed, and as they did, I felt more alone than ever.

I've always struggled with depression, but after my stepdad passed away, it skyrocketed. I would go days without eating much at all, and getting out of my bed to go to class was excruciatingly hard. I had thoughts about suicide before, but the thoughts were suppressible until I felt like my world was crumbling around me and that I would never be able to escape the destruction.

That day, my then friends had grown extremely frustrated with me and my inability to be positive amongst all the bad that was happening in my life, and they decided they were done. That day, I felt like I was a burden in everyone's life. That day, I decided that the world may be better without me. That day, I sat in Temple University's Tech Center on my Macbook, looking up ways to end my life.

Often times, I feel like people don't understand depression unless they struggle with it too, and that day, I didn't feel like anyone understood why I wanted to end my life either. However, a very special person in my life talked me out of it and stayed on the phone with me until I laid my head down to sleep that night.

A friend had encouraged me to go to counseling and engage in more activities that brought me happiness, and I am still so thankful that she did to this day. I quit social media for the time being and began to go to counseling sessions, and in the following weeks, I began to smile again and find genuine happiness in things, which I hadn't been able to do for a while.

August came quickly, and now it was time for my second year in college.

This time, I came into school stronger than ever, with a solid group of people in my corner. This semester definitely had its challenges as well, and I can easily say the amount of hurt I experienced was extensive, but I've realized that with all I've gone through, and all of the people who have chosen to either stay by my side during it or walk away, all of those things have made me stronger in the end.

I read a poem once that compared life to a train journey. It said:

Life is like a train ride.
The passengers on the train are seemingly going to the same destination as you, but based on their belief in you or their belief that the train will get them to their desired destination they will stay on the ride or they will get off somewhere during the trip...
There will be a few people in your life that will make the whole trip with you, who believe in you, accept that you are human and that mistakes will be made along the way, and that you will get to your desired destination - together, no matter what...
Know and have faith that at the end of your ride your train will have the right passengers on board and all the passengers that were on board at one time or another were there for a distinct purpose.

Although this year has easily been one of the most challenging years of my life, It has also opened my eyes to many great things. I know that now, I have not one angel watching over me, but two. I now live to make my parents in heaven proud, as well as my family here on earth. I yearn to be a better friend this upcoming year than I was in 2018, and I now believe in my soul that God is not finished with me yet, and because of that simple truth, I can always be joyful.

I know that it is not easy to find beauty in our struggles and hardships (It took me a whole year to do it) but I will say this: When you allow yourself to take a step back and look at all of the things you've experienced in your life, and reflect on them, you can come to terms with the fact that it all happens for a reason. We must understand that we all have a purpose in this world, and our hardships should never define us, but instead, they should inspire us.

Because of that, I find joy in knowing that my depression did not win that day.

I find joy in knowing that I have two fathers watching over me now.

But most importantly, I find joy in knowing that God always has a greater plan in store for me, and He has a greater plan in store for you too.