I have dreaded today all summer – well until now.
As I was packing up my cluttered desk, tucking away my memories, portfolio and pictures, I realized this opportunity was given to me for a much greater reason than I believed.
Coming into this endeavor, I thought God gave me a chance because He knew how much it meant to me, thought I deserved it and knew I earned it.
The entire summer, I have hated the thoughts of my dreams coming to an end, not knowing if I’ll ever make it back as an employee of the national office of Make-A-Wish. I was complacent with the idea of making a life here since day one and constantly cursed the fact of having another year of college to complete.
I truly believed for a large majority of this summer, in many moments spent with my new friends from around the country, my life can’t get better than this. It was a nightmare thinking that these days, the best days of my life, would be soon behind me.
However, today I realized, these days are not behind me, they are forever with me.
This process, this internship, this entire summer on my own in Phoenix, Arizona helped me find myself. I wouldn’t say I am a new person, but a better person, more who I am supposed to be. I am taking my new perspective of who I am, back to West Virginia.
Of course there are things I will miss: the employees and interns, free blue bunny ice cream, the heat (no seriously I loved it), the mountains, my cubicle L, the entire brand advancement team, the office, intern lunches, bachelorette Monday’s, the Disney room, 7720 E Heatherbrae, my desert tan, the dust storms, the cacti, endless turquoise jewelry, so much shopping, my two beautiful cousins, evening sunset runs, my intern bestie, sleepovers… the list could go on. All these things are now a part of me; they set the tone for my summer and helped me realize more about myself than I thought was possible.
Coming into this experience I was confused who I was. I lacked self-confidence and never felt fully happy. Today, I am walking away totally opposite.
I have never felt more comfortable with myself as a person, both physically and emotionally. For so long I’ve struggled with thinking I needed a perfect body…a perfect everything for that matter. Then I spent this summer with people who had NO idea who I was. I saw how easily they accepted me.. my little pudgy belly, my anxiety, my love for photographs.. they didn’t care. And at the end of this, I have found that I am completely comfortable with who I am, when I put others judgment aside.
Additionally, I knew coming into this I wanted to help others, but I didn’t look past this internship. Through this experience, I have come to comprehend how much I have inspired others. Weekly messages of thanks poured in from people back home of all ages. It is now I know I am meant to take THIS Shae back to West Virginia. I have unfinished business at home.
I need to go back and get another year as a Mountaineer, another chance to fully have the time of my life. I need to go home and inspire my freshman girls to chase their dreams. I need to work a lot more with my local chapter of Make-A-Wish. I need to pour my entire heart into being an RA. I need another year with my family and friends.
Quite frankly, it isn’t my time to leave WV just yet. I need to prove to myself I can be this Shae back home and anywhere in the world for that matter and that I can defeat my own insecurities.
Tomorrow, I’ll be on my way home. I’ll be able to look down from the airplane upon the desert city that helped me flourish, with a smile instead of tears.
I am so young. I was foolish to think I could ever stop here. There is much more ahead of me, a larger journey God has paved and this was just a path along the way of getting me to where I am meant to end up.
Thank you Make-A-Wish America for taking a chance on me, my parents and family for supporting me both mentally, emotionally and financially, my supervisors and the rest of Make-A-Wish staff for teaching more than any classroom setting could, the interns for setting the tone to an unforgettable summer and God himself, for opening my eyes to much more than I imagined at the beginning of this.
I have realized more and more that this wasn’t just for me.. It was a way for God to strengthen, inspire and motivate the people watching.
This journey was not my own. It was for others. I am a child of God, believer and forever a dreamer.
Define your dreams, set your goals and make them happen.