Dear Mom,

When I first sat down to write this piece, I almost didn't know where to begin. I was truly unsure of whether or not I wanted to publish something so vulnerable, but decided to break through the boundaries of my comfort zone because of the many words I feel that I have left unsaid.

It has been one hell of a year, filled with outstanding peaks, trips to the depths of the valleys, and situations of all sorts. Life has taken me in new directions, leading me down fresh paths that, at one time, I would never have expected.

This “new year” has now come and passed, and I look at myself and my experiences with a different sense of clarity than I once did. I have changed, I have progressed, I have grown.

Most importantly, you must know that I could have achieved none of it without you.

It has been said that everyone needs someone. Whether one’s purpose is to provide guidance, offer advice, or simply to listen, you have told me time and time again that everyone needs someone. As much as I know in my heart that that statement holds a certain truth, I think of the moments where I have rejected it, as well as your guidance.

There have been many times where I thought I knew best and simply did what I wanted versus doing what was right. As a result, I am certain you thought that I took your words solely with a grain of salt. It's now that I would like to say that thought is far from the truth. Throughout the course of this year, I have attempted to become a better listener. I have sat down and taken time to decipher the meaning of your words.

As I have grown, I have come to realize the abundance of love behind your intentions and your will for me to prosper. Though at one time, I may not have accepted that support to the fullest extent, it has quickly become a part of my own drive. It's not only what I keep in mind when working to pursue my goals, but what motivates me to live my everyday life in the best way that I can.

As I reflect on the lifestyle changes of beginning college, starting a job, and stepping foot into a newfound independence, I think of you. I think of the tools you have provided me with to become a successful young woman. I think of the times that I have struggled, and the endless words of encouragement you have offered me.

I look back on this year with memories of the laughs we have shared, the tears we have cried, and even the simplest of conversations that I have found takeaways in. I look back because, through both thick and thin, you have been there for me. I see a strength in you that I can only aspire to obtain one day, and I am beyond grateful to have your influence in my life. I hope to make you proud as I follow in your example, because I can gladly say that I am learning from the best.

With Love,

Gina