Have you ever felt so lost that you think you'll never find yourself again?

Have you ever felt like a stranger in a room full of familiar faces?

Have you ever felt like you were just half awake, going through the motions?

I have felt that every day for the past four years. Only instead of getting better, it became worse with each passing day.

I started high school with a great group of friends and a feeling of confidence. Everyone said it was going to be the best years of my life, so I tried to live up to that motto. But slowly, I noticed those "friends" become distant as time went on, watching them slowly drift away and slip out of my grasp. No big deal, right? They're not worth it.

The following year, I found a new group of friends. Everything was great until I felt like something was missing. The group loved to get together outside of class and hang out, but never with me. Somehow, each time there was an event, my invitation wasn't extended. The whispers began, the conversations in hushed tones stopped when I walked in and all the stares were directed at me. Then, the dreaded words: "We're really sorry, but sometimes you need to tone it down."

"Sorry, but sometimes you're obnoxious."

"Can't you take the hint? You just don't really fit with our group."

It was a continuous cycle of being pushed to the side, being the third wheel, always being the one left out and never in the loop. I didn't go to semi-formal because those friends decided I wasn't worth their time anymore. I didn't go to homecoming because there was nobody to go with. Sure, I sat at a table full of classmates and managed to put on a smile. It was never real though. The laughter was always forced and the smiles were always half-hearted.

Slowly, I circled down this dark spiral of sadness. I was alone, so alone. Each school year resulted in the same situation, the same loneliness, and the same tears.

It's sad that I used to come home in tears almost every day. There was always something wrong: someone bothering me, relationships not working out. I let people walk all over me without a word in return. I was tossed to the side when guys were bored but I was happy. The only thing I knew how to do was hold it all in. My parents couldn't understand what was wrong.

"How can we fix this? What can we do? Can you wait it out? You're almost done."

There was nothing that could be done but to wait until graduation. I felt like I was half alive this entire time, just going through the motions and not feeling anything inside. The only people who were there for me were my parents.

My close friends seem to disappear into their own happy lives. It didn't seem right to kill their vibe with my constant problems, but it's not like they noticed something was wrong.

No really, I'm fine. Just tell me about the amazing senior year you've had with your friends, I'm happy to hear it. I swallowed painfully through the lump in my throat, still got up every morning and threw myself into my studies. That was the only focus I had: finishing my senior year strong.

Somewhere along those 4 years, I lost myself for the longest time. I counted down the days till graduation, the day I could finally leave the cage I was trapped in for so long. I had teachers who didn't do their jobs, friends who seemed to disappear when I needed them most and watched as my life collapsed around me. When I walked out of those doors for the last time, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was free.

When senior year came along, I knew I had to leave. I was sick and tired of waking up to the same place every day for 12 years. I wanted something new, something that would light the flame inside again and make me happy. So I found this little town called Athens and decided to call it home.

There was no feeling quite like moving to a new place with new people. I get to do what I love, make new friends and try new things. Everything felt so new, so vibrant, and so different from home. But I don't live in small town PA anymore. That girl you knew isn't me anymore. I felt what it was like to be happy again, to love my new life and my new friends.

Then I joined ασπ and found the sisters I never had. I found girls who run out to town on coffee dates with me in the dark of the night. They’re the type of friends who run around the streets of Athens and yell stupid stuff at you out of love because it’s funny. I remembered how it feels to have people who care and worry about you every day when you’re away.

Coming here was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it helped me find myself again. I came out of that dark hole I was trapped in and saw the beauty of life. It's a blessing to have best friends who put me in a chair at dinner, demand that I spill the details on my latest love interest and then ask when the wedding will happen. I’ve learned to smile, laugh and be cherished again, which is something I haven’t felt in so long.

So here’s to my new life.