As I packed up my room and headed home from school I was excited; I got to see my family, drive the back roads I missed so much, catch up with my friends, and just get back to my life there. But, I was sad too; sad to leave the place I had been at all year, sad to leave those who were by my side through the last semester- probably one of the hardest semesters of my life.

I was conflicted.

What I noticed throughout the time since I’ve been home is the fact that I’ve changed. I went from being someone who was born and raised in a small town to the girl who packed up everything to move to a place where she knew no one. I grew independent and thus coming back to a place which requires me to be dependent (or to have others depend on me) triggered something that heightened all of my emotions.

Now, I’m not saying I hate being home. I love this place and I am so fortunate to have the people in my life that I do because of it. In fact, I’m here to thank those people in my life who have helped me onto this point.

As I write this today, it is after a nearly sleepless night. Filled with crying, anxiety attacks, a headache from all of my thoughts bouncing around. So, I am not at the top of my game and therefore this is not fabricated in any way — this is my raw emotion.

So, to everyone who has been in my life and seen me not as myself-thank you.

Thank you for respecting that sometimes a random action is going to make me cry.

Thank you for not making fun of the way I act, the way I dress, the way I cope with things. You’ve known me to be confident but you also know that sometimes you shouldn’t kick someone while they’re down.

Thank you to the ones who give me space when I ask for it, and to the ones who refuse to leave me alone since they know I just don’t want them to see me a certain way.

Thank you for telling me to shut up when I say something bad about myself, but also never being afraid to reassure me how you feel when I do.

Thank you for holding me as I cry, and never letting me forget you are there. Even if I don’t want to talk. Thank you for making me feel comfortable in what you do- whether it be answering a phone call at 3 a.m. or bringing me a glass of water after I cry.

Thank you for respecting that I’m not sure how long an anxiety attack will last, and I know about as much as you do when it comes to my mental health. I know it’s there but I have no idea of why or how, and you never let me feel bad about it.

I could go on and on, and I could probably find so much more to think about and thank you all for. But, the main thing is to thank you for not identifying me as this.

Thank you for being yourself and treating me as me.

Thank you for not changing how you act because you’re afraid how I’ll respond. You are those who have taught me that this is not me, instead, it’s just an identity inside of me. 

Nothing can beat who I am and you are those who have taught me that.

Thank you all for loving me throughout this. I love you all more than I could ever put into words. No matter how I am I will always know that.