Change, it’s a funny thing when you’re in college because you are supposed to change everything about yourself: hair, piercings, and things you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do. But why are do you feel the need to do those things? We are TOLD that is how we live out our college years. Yes, that is a great way to spend the most influential years of your life but there is no reason to be that way because someone else thinks you should. 

Let me start by saying, change isn’t easy and adjusting to new things will never be something I am particularly good at but this year I did things different when I realized something was off. Not to say I wasn’t strong prior to this but to say that I knew I needed to be handling situations differently is an understatement.

Around March of last year, I started to think about what the next year of my life was going to look like, living with my best friends in my first apartment, scoring my first internship and being officially in the business program. There were a lot of things about to change in my life but it was all extremely exciting to think about. Amidst thinking of all of the aspects of my life that were about to change, I began to let others’ opinions, circumstances and judgements dominate the little things in my life whether I realized it or not. So fast forward to now, I have two internship opportunities, have the time of my life living with my best friends and am completely crushing school and you know what made me be able to do all of that because I chose ME.

coffee, cake
Jena Donovan

Now this task might seem effortless to some but for me this wasn't so easy, I have spent many years making my world revolve around other people so now it’s my turn to be the first choice. Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that I became a selfish bitch in a matter of 10 months because it is not true by any means.


As mentioned around March of last year, I was beginning to realize that I wasn’t in control of my own life. I was listening and becoming subjected to others’ opinions and what they wanted from my life rather than telling them what I wanted from my own life. I didn't know what I wanted anymore and I was getting confused about what the future was going to hold. So as the semester dragged on it was coming time for me to head home to the place that is full of comfort and memories and I knew that's where I was going to make the change.

We all become subjected to the views of others via social media but it seemed as though the things I was confident, began to crumble not because of social media but because of other people. I was questioning myself when it came to how capable I was at completing exams or just the fact that I was actually doing well in school. These types of doubts can become toxic to anyone who lets them in which is why after my 20th birthday I was DONE listening to others and starting doing my own thing.

The summer was an interesting time for me, working full time and trying to buy all the stuff for my apartment took up a majority of my time. Balancing a relationship, friends and family is a struggle that any college student tends to have issues with when home from school. The anticipation of returning to school was quickly approaching, as was my time to start making my peace with officially moving out of Cornelius, NC. 

Elizabeth Faile

The Tough Times:

Now we know that life isn't always going to be full of good times, there's always gotta be some things thrown your way that test your strength, here’s where my resilience was shown. Let me start out by saying, I didn't know what to expect from living in my first apartment, would I eat microwave meals, have a horribly messy room, end up hating my best friends? These are all real concerns for someone who is moving into their first apartment as a 20 year old, but don’t worry not a single one of those is true, but adjusting was necessary. 

wine, pizza, beer
Elizabeth Faile

Prior to my big move in day, my long-term, long distance relationship had come to an end which made the move from my hometown bittersweet. This wasn’t an easy call but to say being selfish here was the right thing for the two of us couldn't be more true. As I went on to starting the first week of classes and settling into my new home, I got an unsettling phone call from my mother saying I needed to come home to say goodbye to my childhood dog Izzy because she didn't have much more time with us. This is a feeling that no one could prepare you for and could ever make you feel 100% okay with and it will forever be one of the most painful days of my life.

coffee, tea, beer
Elizabeth Faile

I was horribly heartbroken and feeling rather empty after the loss of a relationship and my childhood pet so I was going back to Boone with a heavy heart to say the least. As I woke up the next morning my friends and I decided there was no better way to spend a Saturday than at the river (#true) but on my way there I found myself at fault in a car accident.

I hate having to be the barer of bad news for my parents so I called my dad then proceeded to call my mom. Keep in mind this is only one day after the loss of our dog. She sounded very stressed and confused as I was gauging the best way to let her know I had an accident when she cut me off to inform me she was having emergency surgery because of her appendix. To say I am an emotional wreck at this point is truly an understatement. I was scared for my mother’s health, I just had an accident and not to mention the loss of an animal.

tea, beer, coffee
Elizabeth Faile

I could have handled these events in countless ways: screamed, shut down or even ran away from them all together; but instead I let them hit me head on. When life throws everything it’s got at you, hold your head up and keep moving. This new found strength is something I wish I had found ages ago, it would have saved me so much self-pity and hurt in high school. The pain of the first month of last semester still stings at times, but in reality when I look back at those weeks I am proud. Proud I didn’t fall back into old patterns with one phone call, proud I didn’t run away from the fear I felt and proud at the woman that I have become over the past 10 months. This was an extremely stressful time in my life but when life gets hard, you get harder.


Here I am, 10 months later and I can honestly say I am a strong, completely independent woman who doesn’t need anyone else to tell her what to think, feel and do with her life. I have a new-found freedom and it was so much closer than I could have ever imagined, all I had to do was look to myself. Now that I live a life where I am the priority I have found countless of opportunities in every realm of my world and people have begun to notice the change in me. By choosing myself I opened countless doors of where I can go from here, so many cities, jobs and even countries that are just outside my reach. As I disclaimed previously, I am not a selfish bitch, I will fight for anyone and everyone to have equal opportunities, rights and freedoms as they should have.

So I am writing this to challenge you to make choose yourself because no one else deserves it more than you.