2019! *Everyone shivers* *Palm to the forehead* Not my year. Yet totally my year. The year of learning lessons. Shitty lessons. And flourishing into someone new. Someone good. I am officially one of those people who has to learn everything the hard way. I am one of those people is warned not to do something, yet still does it. I am one of those people who has to fall flat on their face before they realize their balance had been lost for awhile. I am one of those people who has to completely break before they can truly break through. Which, in short, means I kinda suck.

January. Five days into 2019, I experienced my first shit lesson. When someone contacts you through Instagram and asks you to model, free of charge, in the basement of their home, in your swimsuit without your parents consent or presence — you might NOT want to follow through. The second this stranger asks you how many people you’ve slept with, grab your keys, and go home. Do NOT continue to smile in your small bikini and act like everything is fine, because this initial question is most likely just the beginning. Exhibit A of my tendency to learning things the hard way, I did not “grab my keys and go home” after being asked that exact question. And yes, it was just the beginning. Rebuilding my self confidence from that day forward was one of the hardest things I’ve ever needed to do. Self love is something you have to want for yourself and work for. For awhile, I expected someone to hand me confidence on a silver platter and every doubt about my reflection in the mirror would drift away. YIKES! I was so wrong! But with time, I turned a broken view of myself into an invincible attitude. I had to be strong and patient with myself to know my worth like I do today. And I’m proud of myself for it. To the immature 16 year old boys who mocked my pictures, posted on their social media making fun of me, called me names, and thought it was funny: thank god I’m posting this before the ball drops. Your learned lesson of 2019 is that being a jerk isn’t cool anymore. You don’t know what happens behind the scenes. And kindness is always the way to go. No hard feelings though, I learned this lesson through you all. And I thank you for it. And to the inappropriate photographer of January 5th, all I have to thank you for is something to write about in my college essay. “Young girl finds self worth through shitty modeling experience” got me into all the universities I applied to. Happy New Year to you as well. But that was only five days into 2019. We still have 360 to go.

February. If every month of 2019 was a chapter in a book, February would be the one I would hate to reread. It’s strange to talk about, especially since everyone in Louisville knows everyone in Louisville, but if I’m going to cover all the lessons I’ve learned this year, I’m going to have to cover February. *Hairs on back of neck rise* Heartbreak is such a difficult topic to publicize. I feel awkward typing this. Should I stop? Yes, I should. No, I shouldn’t. Are you on the edge of your seat yet? I sure hope so. I am doing this for you, as you sit in your bed and read my story solely because you’re just a tad bit nosey. For a long time I would consider myself the happiest little 16 year old in the entire world. I thought I was the coolest girl ever, dating an older guy who mailed jewelry to my address. But as read in The Outsiders, nothing gold can stay. And lemme tell ya, that was one hell of a bad breakup. It’s never easy to lose your best friend, but WOW it could’ve been a lot easier than it was. (But just to lighten the mood I’m also so dramatic and thought the world was coming to an end and looking back, it wasn’t that deep). Everything happens for a reason and I think it’s easy to forget that. I’ll take this time to say: Happy New Years to all my ex lovers. Y’all all did a real good job for a real long time. Unfortunately you cannot kiss me when the ball drops. Tragic, I know. On a serious note, I learned three very important lessons through this breakup that I feel like everyone should learn from my experience. FIRST, moms are never wrong and girls nights are good for the soul. SECOND, breaking down in the middle of your English test because you’re sad about ex bae kissing someone else really doesn’t matter to your English teacher and you are 100% going to fail if you turn it in unfinished to cry in the school bathroom. THIRD, just because your ex bae of two days tells you he’s sad about the way things ended, DOES NOT MEAN to surprise him with ice cream to make him feel better. Because the chances of you walking in on him in bed with one of your friends is exceedingly high. Or maybe that’s just me. But…. lesson learned. Thank God that’s over. Next!!!!!!

March. The month of a lot of fake happiness. Finding the strength to overcome the pain. Going through the motions. And honestly letting my feelings get the best of me. Not to be dramatic but March has literally never been a good month for me in any of my high school years. (I think March, and especially Spring Break, is cursed for me. Freshman year I got caught sneaking out in March. Sophmore year me and the believed LOVE OF MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE broke up. And junior year, I was just a really sad girl all of the time). My friends and family were starting to notice how sad I was daily. I thought I was hiding it so well until my math teacher pulled me aside after class and told me that her and the other teachers were worried about me. It took everything in me not to cry in front of her. I HATE CONFRONTATION. But looking back, I wish I would’ve. Letting it out probably would’ve been good for me. March was the month where I put on a mask for the rest of the world. I didn’t focus on myself. I allowed my sadness to encompass me. The main lesson I learned, looking back on this month, is that being a people pleaser will never bring happiness. If I had focused on myself rather than pretending to be a happy person I clearly was not, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so emotionally drained every night before I went to bed. A constant storm cloud followed over my head in March, and my rainbow could’ve come quicker if I had asked for help when I needed it. Lesson learned: the hard way. That was depressing. Let’s perk this story up a little bit. Because ain’t nothin stopping me!

April. This was the month where I decided that my depression had nothin on me and I was going to throw a party while my parents were out of town! I still think I’m so slick for getting away with that. Hopefully they never read this memorandum of my year. I’d be grounded in a heartbeat. BUT WASN’T THAT FUN!?!??!? Most importantly, April is the month my sister moved out of the house. Megan lived at home while she was in college. We had never been apart for 17 years until April 2019. It sucked. I was so used to her room being 5 steps away from mine. If I ever ran out of deodorant, I’d just strut into her room and take hers. And then I was typically yelled at for being SO GROSS. Starting in April though — I had to start keeping up with my own deodorant stash. It sucked. The house got much more quiet without my loud mouth sister running around. Growing up, she was always tapping in the basement (literally tapping) or making the smoke detector go off from burning the rice (this happened way too often). I hated having her move 30 minutes away from me! But there was something so great about her moving out And his name is Brody. He has four legs. And the cutest darn tail you’ll ever see. Megan bought Brody before there was even furniture in her new home. The walls were not painted, the floors were not finished, and there wasn’t even a couch in the living room, but there was Brody. Two love birds in an empty house with a puppy who ate anything in sight. It was chaotic. It was perfect. It was fresh. And it was exactly what I needed to get hope in a happier future for myself. NEXT! Lights, camera, action!!!!!

May. April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, throughout April and May, I met two people that influenced my life in the most positive way. People I needed to meet. We’ll nickname them “Tom” and “Jerry” for confidentiality purposes. Tom. Honest I had never heard of this person in my entire life until I met them on Spring Break. I’d consider them to be the one good thing that happened that week. They taught me so many important lessons. Beginning with the fact that I am worthy. I am worthy of love and happiness and an abundance of adventures. They taught me that laying in bed, allowing myself to be sad over my past hardships, is a choice. And that exercise is good for the soul. They reminded me of all the goodness in the world, and that a few Justin Bieber songs never hurt to listen to. Jerry. This person genuinely changed my life forever. I’ve never learned so many things from a person until them. I know these may seem like common sense, but I was in such a bad mental state in my life that I completely forgot what was important. First and foremost, family is everything. Second, never give up on yourself or your dreams. Third, God is real!!! Fourth, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself. That was a hard pill to swallow. But also the best lesson I was taught in 2019. There’s a difference between getting advice, and truly understanding and living it. I live this advice now. The self love I needed so badly in January returned through this person. Fifth, maturity is everything. Taking the high road is always the best path to take. And seeing someone else’s side to something is vital in life. Finally, Qdoba in the Highlands is open til 5 am on the weekends. The rest of May included Bachelorette nights every Monday. Hannah is stupid for letting Luke stay for so long And I live by that.

June. *Yawn* *Yawn* *Yawn* And then me and Blayke went to Florida. Life did a 360 on this trip. This was one of my favorite trips of all time. I got my first real, natural, sun given tan! It was crazy. Never forgetting my roots though — spray tans forever. Blayke and I decided that our life has to be movie worthy from this point forward. A lesson that turned any dull day into something Gossip Girl would want to post about. If a movie couldn’t have been made about our day, it was a day wasted. Life DESERVES to be interesting. We went to the same small breakfast place every morning, and I still have the receipts from our every meal in my memory box. Watching karaoke night on our last day in Florida was the night I felt everything in life coming back together since the year began. A cute little old man sang Frank Sinatra and Blayke and I were fulfilled. Everything was good. Life was beautiful that night. Not as beautiful as my Blaykey though!! Boom. Beep. Bop.

July. I mean duh Forecastle and all but eh. More interestingly, the beginning to my secret relationship. Now that was something movie worthy. Also just another example of me learning shit the HARDEST WAY POSSIBLE. It was weird. Dates were dinner in parking lots. Never talking about the cute comments or minor fights with my friends. Mini escapes out of town for the day. If we saw people we knew in public, we’d hide and go our separate ways. It was never official and always confusing. I never really knew how to act with it. It was always so complicated. Lesson learned: if you love someone, tell them. If you TRULY love someone, be proud of it. Lesson learned: losing yourself for someone else is not worth it. Never sacrifice your own happiness for someone else’s. Like “Jerry” taught me, the only person you have at the end of the day is yourself. Lesson learned: YOU DON’T NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. Lesson learned: all you ever need is your girls. I missed out on too much with my friends so I could sneak around with someone who wasn’t confident in me. That’s embarrassing. That was rough. Ew @ me for that one.

August. Trinity cheer!! Senior year started!! My sisters bachelorette party!! Told y’all life started looking up. Let’s break it down one by one. If y’all are still reading. Which I’m sure you’re not. Phase 1: Trinity cheer. Last year, like 2018 type last year, Trinity cheer was brand new and fresh. I met the best people and it was heartbreaking when they left for college. But I made a new family & I will forever be thankful for them. This year, like 2019 type this year, a new team came along. And WE are the big kids! It’s weird being a “role model” for girls only a few months younger than you. But thank GOD for the girls I’ve met, and the ways they’ve influenced me. Quick shout out to Gracie Gilkey, for being the little sister I’ve never had. We balance each other out, share our stories and always have one another’s backs. It’s a beautiful friendship. It’s genuine. Trinity cheer brought me to her, and JUST FOR THAT, I’ll forever be in debt to this amazing team. Phase 2: Senior year. WHAT!?!?!! High school seriously FLEW by. If any younger class men are reading this, SLOW DOWN!!!! It sounds cheesy but seriously — you’re a freshman one day and a senior the next. I haven’t even grasped the entire “senior year experience” yet, but it already sucks knowing every day is closer to goodbye. And if there’s anything about me that I’ve learned this year, it’s that I don’t handle “goodbyes” very well. Sad face. I need to work on that. Phase 3: MY SISTERS BACHELORETTE WEEKEND! Goodbye Louisville, hello Nashville. Doing my sisters makeup before we hit the town, watching her hoot and holler when everyone congratulated her on her engagement, and bringing her as many glasses of wine as she would possibly desire was the HIGHLIGHT of August. Seeing the excitement in her eyes when she talked about her wedding was something I can’t explain. Her bridal party all carved penises out of cucumbers, and I pride myself there mine was the best. Lesson learned: engraving the bride-to-be’s fiancés name on a cucumber penis will always win the prize at the end of the night. August brought lots of changes. Good changes. Happy changes. Yee-haw Onto the next!

September. College visits. Me and Gracie Ruckreigel hit the road, and these two future roommates started thinking about our lives. How are they going to change in 2020? The potential is limitless. College is such a scary thought. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s new. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s new. It’s scary. Quick appreciation for my future roommate before October comes rolling around: I love you I love you I love you. You have taught me that laughter is the best medicine. You have taught me that life can be ASS and the only thing we could ever do is keep moving forward. You have taught me that therapeutic talks in the car at 7:15 am before school in the parking lot can heal any bad night from the day before. You have taught me that I will never be alone. You have taught me that just because I cry all day over a failed AP test, that the option of ditching school and marrying rich is always an option. Thank you for inspiring me this year. I cannot WAIT to see what craziness 2020 has in store for us. I love you I love you I love you.

October. *Tears start pouring* *Heart grows 5 sizes* Me and Kaley took a weekend trip to Red River Gorge. Trinity cheer senior night. My sister got freaking MARRIED. Took my senior pictures. Met the sweetest human ever. I don’t know where to start with October. Kay and I spent the weekend, no service at all, in a little itty bitty town with nothing but a bunch of trails and a small pizzeria. We played board games, pool, and went on one hell of a drive. You know the quote “sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself” ?? Me and Kaley hopped in the car, and drove. We had no idea where we were, no service to GPS, and two fully warmed up vocal cords to sing with. It was perfect. My friends and I prepared a surprise flash mob for my sisters wedding for weeks. We made up an entire rap with a goofy dance to go with it. Singing in front of 300 people at my sisters wedding was something I’ll never forget. You should have SEEN! HER! FACE! My sisters wedding day brings warmth to my heart. It was beautiful. She slept in my bed the night before at her old home with me, and woke up a crazy nervous wreck. Lots of makeup, hairspray, and Starbucks later… it was show time. WOW I CRIED. There was so much love in one room. My sister and dad danced their dance. I just don’t have words for it. It was a day I will hold in my heart forever. Senior pics. Senior night. Bittersweet. Ugh so much love. Next.

November. Writing this has made me realize how far I’ve come this year. November was such a simple, easy, good month. Nothing quite tremendous happened, and for the first time all year, I became truly content and relaxed. Dealing with so much in one year leaves a toll on someone. So many goodbyes, so many hellos. November brings thanksgiving. And thanksgiving brings family together. It brings everyone together. November was when I started to finally feel put together. Everything had calmed down, my family was finally full. My friends and I created so many memories, and everything became easier. Which was something I deserved. It’s taken me this entire year to proudly admit that I DESERVE a good life. A happy, easy life. But don’t worry, Blayke and I will always scheme something up every now and then. The movie can’t die!

December. Wtf. We survived! Trinity won state at football. Retreat led me to amazing new people in my life. I finally got to wear the prom dress I bought in February. I found love in so many people. Everything is ending on such a GOOD. NOTE. Finalizing the summary of my year makes my heart feel bigger. Everything really does come full circle. All the bad turned good. All the good stayed good…. 2019! *Everyone claps* *Smiles are everywhere* The year of lessons…. and I’m ending it with the most important one. Everything happens for a reason. Everything gets better. That dark storm cloud that followed me around at the beginning of the year turned into a big ball of sunshine. And I’m thriving off of it. Learning it the hard way: I’m saying goodbye to 2019 with a big fat THANK YOU. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself. Because know I finally understand that I am important. And you are too. Thank you for reading. Happy New Year.

Autumn Cambron

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