I stumbled into my 20s not quite sure who I was or where I fit in. I felt like an outsider, trying hard to fit into this mold everyone around me seemed to find naturally. I squeezed and pushed as much as I could, but it became apparent that I wasn’t going to fit. I didn’t understand what was so different about me. I looked at every inch of who I was and found no obvious answer as to why I wasn’t fitting in. Every day it was like trying to catch up to where they were—just reaching the final point when they would take off again. It exhausted me to my core.
I let go of this image that I and everyone else had of me, and for the first time, let my bare soul show itself. I saw who I really was—someone who has countless faults, who can be selfish and difficult, who has made mistakes. But I also saw someone who deserved better than listening to the people who were constantly telling me that I needed to change. I let go of these dark, hateful ideas about who I was and I felt free. I’m starting my 21st year a completely different person. I have a messy, imperfect, tangled up life, and I love every single part of it.
- Erica Mahoney (Class of 2018), Minneapolis