This year has been pretty crazy to say the least. I’m writing this post exactly from the heart, sitting here sipping on some hot chocolate and listening to Sam Smith’s album, The Thrill of It All, reflecting on the entire year. So, take a seat and enjoy reading about my rollercoaster of a year from movie premieres to concerts to getting into college with a scholarship to depression to finally finding the best part of me.

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~Yes that’s a crown on my head – curtesy of my friend, Agatha (who actually owned it)~

I’m going to start by saying I am so unequivocally happy that I have graduated high school. It was definitely no walk in the park with junior year and senior year being two of the most high stressful years of my already stressful life. But, of course, 2018 became the year of Courtney, when she won the chance of a lifetime to go to the world premiere of Avengers: Infinity War right? Wrong, so very wrong…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly, without doubt, grateful for getting the chance to go and doing everything I did (because I definitely went to movie sets and studios’ + Disneyland), but I fell right off the wagon afterwards. I’m going to be honest with you guys, what I experienced was like a drug. Being treated like I was really important, getting special treatment, people asking if I was actually a celebrity (it was way more common than you think) just because I either looked really good that day or because I said I was going to the premiere of  the most highly anticipated movie of the year. It’s something that isn’t easy to shake after coming home and going back to school and your mundane life, literally, the next day.

It was very disheartening to say the least because not only did I have to move on with my regular life, but it felt like no one would understand what I was going through. I had a teaspoon of the good life (fancy hotel rooms, movie premieres, being driven around, meeting celebrities, being mistaken for celebrities, hundreds of people wanting to be in your place {I’m not joking either}) and it’s not just something you want to give up.

So, imagine my surprise when I come home and realize that it feels like something is missing and honestly feels like a hole in your heart, your soul, I don’t know, but it  was definitely somewhere. And, yes, I was weirdly in shock even though I know what I had just experienced.

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It took me a bit to recover, and I sort of had to hide the way I really felt from everyone because I was worried they would either pity me or worse, not even give a crap. Which lead to the turmoil of sadness I fell into…

Anyways, I graduated high school at the top of my class, which is good obviously, also found out I got into Penn State and the Millennium Scholars Program {MSP} (after I did the many hours of interviews). Then came summer when I had to leave all my friends back home (couldn’t even go on my senior trip), dealing with the summer bridge program of MSP. This put more stress on my life than I’ve ever had before and I don’t want to say that’s what landed me in therapy, but I guess it was a long time coming. And, by the way, I would definitely recommend therapy for probably everyone. It’s sort of nice being able to talk to someone who isn’t in your life and biased, plus it’s their job to listen to you and help you (regular people don’t have to do that!).

So, summer bridge came to an end and I made some new friends going into the school year. I also went to my first concert right before the summer ended (OTR II – Beyonce and Jay-Z {went to another concert (J. Cole) during the year}}, started my YouTube channel back up again, and went home to spend a few weeks with my friends and family before I went back to college.

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Starting freshman year after having a quite an eventful, jam-packed, educationally rich summer was actually quite easier than I thought. My classes were (I wouldn’t say a breeze), but a lot easier than my friends, who were taking hard sciences. I wasn’t really on the party scene and I didn’t dabble in anything bad either (like some people I know who must not be named). I do have to say that the only problem with first semester was the fact that I felt pretty lonely. Most of my friends were party people and if they weren’t partying then they were studying, neither of which I really did… I mean, yeah, of course I studied, but nowhere near as much as everyone else because in most cases, I didn’t need to (which I was definitely happy about).

I continued going to therapy (this time group instead of one on one), but it seemed like things just wouldn’t get any better. I stayed in my dorm a lot, I always had a sickening feeling that I didn’t fit in with the (very few) friends that I had. It. was. terrible. And I’ll be very honest with you, it took a couple of mental breakdowns and for someone in my cohort (in MSP) for me to get my life together.

I started going to the gym, doing face masks and having movie nights, started eating a teensy bit better, and stopped saying no to hanging out with people I didn’t think really wanted me around and it helped. Every little bit helped because I felt better with everything that I did and I soon came to realize that it was okay to be alone sometimes because that’s when you really start to understand yourself and dive deeper into finding out who you really are, because that’s what college is all about. Right?

It also helped that I started a YouTube channel creating content and expressing myself. It gave me a voice that I didn’t even know I had, much less wanting to share with other people. It’s taken many years to accept certain aspects of myself and to come to terms with who I am. And that’s why I think I found the best part of myself this year. I accepted and owned the fact that, yeah, I am a pretty quiet person, sometimes I can be bitter and petty, but sometimes I can be the kindest person to someone who needs it the most in their life (even if they don’t deserve it). I have a voice and now I’m not afraid to let you know what you need to hear. I’m not afraid of wearing my expressions and feelings on my face because that’s what I do. If you don’t like it, get over yourself. I’m unapologetic about who I am because I love who I turned out to be. This year, so many doors have been opened for me, I’ve learned so many new things about the world and myself, and I’ve been more positive this year than I’ve ever been in 19 years of being on this Earth.

So, I’ll continue to be this new person going into the new year. Take the best parts of me and the best parts of this year and bring them into 2019 with me. We all have a duty to find our best selves and own it. Will you be unapologetic you? Or will you continue to let other people who don’t have your best interest at heart, control your life and stop you from being the best version of yourself? Will you be positive in the new year and stop letting fear control your life and open that door of opportunities awaiting for you? You know how the saying goes, “New Year, New Me.” Except, this year, why don’t you actually try following that for a change? No shade, though…

Signing off,
Zoeysxo