There comes a point in life when you are faced with decisions. Decisions that could shape your entire future. Who you will become, where you'll go, who you'll meet: every little detail depends on those decisions. This past year was full of life changing decisions for me.
It all started when I left for Europe for a month. I jumped on a plane knowing that I wouldn't know a soul once I landed. When I arrived I met a group of strangers who ended up becoming some of the best friends I've ever had.
We memorized the Underground in London, almost died on the Paris Metro, explored Amsterdam, almost died again in a Swiss jail, ate our weight in gelato all throughout Italy, skinny dipped in Venice, climbed 500 stairs to the top of the Duomo in Florence, sunbathed on the French Riviera and shopped all over Spain.
We were all scared and nervous and bonded quicker than anyone normally would; because when you're all new in a foreign place, walls come down and friendships are bonded closer than they ever would.
I left that world a changed person. I was, in that moment, a world traveler. Someone who literally faced one of her greatest fears, traveling alone so far away from my comfort zone, and came home with a new strength and memories that would last a lifetime.
And then my world came crashing down. There was a suicide in my family a few days before I arrived home. I didn't find out until I was home. There's nothing more surreal than basically having to go to a funeral of someone you love a few hours after you fly home from the most amazing experience of your life. I went from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows.
Friends, old and new, were there to support me and help me through the hard times. I was depressed and confused and angry. The mess my grandpa left us in was horrific, my family was in ruins.
Through all this, despite the pain, I truly learned who was there for me and who was only there when it was convenient for them, or who wasn't there at all. Besides my family, I had an amazing boyfriend who literally stuck by my side no matter how many nights I just sobbed into his shirt. He held my hand through it all and never once turned away or pushed me aside.
There were others who were there at first, but slowly became disinterested and eventually were "annoyed" by the whole ordeal. People who once were my closest allies. I learned how someone who you once knew better than anyone could become a complete stranger to you little by little.
As the months past by and the pain subsided little by little, I learned how precious family is and how rare true friends really are. The things I learned in Europe and the fire I was thrown into when I came home helped shape me and teach me more about life than I had ever known before.
I learned to always take risks. Always say "I love you". Enjoy every moment like it's your last. That there's beauty even in the most ugly situations. Cry when you need to. Live in the now. Be spontaneous. Be kind. Don't be afraid to say hello, or goodbye. And when it's hardest to pray, pray.
All of those decisions lead to where I am now... living in California and working at my favorite place on earth :)
Last fall I applied for the Disney College Program of Spring 2013 and I got in! I've been living here for almost two weeks already with four other girls and I'm in my first week of training as a PhotoPass Photographer at the Disneyland Resort.
Everything I've been through the past 7 months lead me to where I am now. I gained a new strength of courage, determination and ambition that I never had all those months ago.
Although it was hard and scary leaving my family behind at such a fragile time, and moving away from my very best friend/boyfriend for 8 months, I knew I had to do it in order to achieve my dreams.
And it all started with one decision.