I remember crying as the plane took off, leaving my hometown in Montana. I remember hugging my best friend outside of the car in front of the airport, thinking there was no way I could leave, terrified that things would never be the same. And to be very truthful, everything did in fact change. My life before leaving for college versus my life today are almost incomparable.
I am a new person with a new life. Parts of the transformation were hard, but a year later I couldn't be more grateful for what I have found.

I came to college looking for an education. I came partially to get away from my small hometown. I wanted to see the world on a broader scale. I wanted a chance to expand myself and to take the rare opportunity of starting over in a place where nobody knew me or could tell me who to be.

If you are just about to take the leap to attend college and start a new life in a new place, be excited. Be more than excited — be thrilled, because you are about to make the best change of your life. You are about to run into too many blessings to count, and find fulfillment for all of the spaces in your life which currently feel vacant. Here are all of the things I found that I never thought I would, all just in one short year away.

The first thing I found was a sorority and the most incredible group of women that I can imagine being a part of. Here I found the best friends I will ever have. The kind of friends who are just as driven and passionate as I am, ones who I look up to, and who push me to be the best version of myself. Those are the qualities that differentiate high school friends from the ones you'll meet in college.

I found the kind of friends who I want to share every moment with, not only in school but throughout the rest of my life. The people who will stand next to me at my wedding and who will know my kids.

I found a roommate who became a part of me. When one of us was going through something, the other was too. She was the first to know when something great happened, and the first to know when my world was falling apart. She knew about all of my boy drama, home drama, and college drama. We would share every detail of our lives down to what we dreamed about each night and the weird food we had been craving all week. Together we survived things neither of us thought we'd ever had to face.

In the months continuing I found company in all-nighters in the library, not because I had so much work but simply because half of the time that should have been spent studying was spent laughing with friends. I wouldn't trade those moments for sleep any day.

I found that sometimes partying with your best friends on a Tuesday night is actually more healing and needed than a night in alone watching Netflix.

I learned some very important lessons, the most important being that you should always try your absolute best to never say no. Even if you're tired, or are not feeling social, always say yes to going out or getting food with your friends. And I cannot stress this one enough — if a cute boy asks you to get smoothies at Chopshop... GO GET SMOOTHIES WITH HIM. Why? Because the two of you just might end up falling in love.

I can't swear that everyone will be as lucky as I have been, but I can tell you that when you put yourself out there you are bound to be rewarded for your bravery. There is nothing about leaving home for college that is easy. There will be times when you want to move back. There will be times when you feel lost and wonder if you made the right decision by coming. Just stick it out, give it one more week, one more month, one more year, because a life full of so much love and joy you would have never thought it possible is just around the corner.