Recently, for those of you who do not know, I purchased my very first home. And, I could not be prouder myself for achieving this amazing feat and doing it almost entirely on my own. The last year has  been spent pinching my pennies, working two jobs, communing two hours daily, seeing my friends and family minimally, and sacrificing my sanity for the hopes of becoming a happier and more sane individual. Throughout this last year, I realized there were a lot of thing in my life that I never knew I needed: time at home with my family, working harder than I ever knew possible, crying a lot, making time for friends when there was no time, and most importantly understanding the need to just let go.

I am one of the luckiest people in the world, as I have been blessed with two parents who love me unconditionally. My parents, Mom and Dad, have been the two most monumental people in my life-my rocks. Together they helped me overcome my inability to communicate with people as a young child,  they taught me to trust, to love, and to never give up. They taught me that failing is just God’s way of telling me to find another way to achieve my goals. For example, when I put an offer in on what I thought was going to be my first home and the bank denied my loan, they knew that God was telling me that it was not my time to make such a huge decision. They knew that something better was right around the corner and to have faith in myself, as I have never let them down, even though I feel like I am constantly letting myself down.

The thing is, I never knew I needed more time at home with my family. As a 28 year old adult living at home, I felt ashamed that I had not achieved as much as it had seemed that my friends had: marriage, amazing jobs, home ownership, traveling, etc. However, after living away from my family for four years while attending college and moving away to Chicago briefly, I did not realize how much I needed to be swaddled like a baby again by, not only my parents, but also my siblings. I missed them, all of them. I would be lying if I said that there weren’t times that I wanted to stab my eyes out with a knife when I was back at home, of course. However, I truly never knew that living back at home would give me the strength that I needed to work two jobs and save every penny earned, so that I could achieve my goal of home ownership, a dream that I never thought would be possible.

Working two jobs has probably been one of the most challenging things that I have ever done in my life. After I graduated from college, I had  the most difficult time becoming gainfully employed due to the economic down turn our country was facing. Like many, I was barely working full time and was unsure if I would have a job on a daily basis. However, as the economy took an upswing, I still found it necessary to work two jobs. I was fearful of not being able to pay back my nearly $50k of school loans that I had taken out to cover the cost of tuition. For almost five years, since I graduated from college, I have been killing myself working two jobs, being exhausted daily, and almost having zero time for myself, but I cannot complain.  Working like a dog for almost five years has given me a perspective on life that I never knew I needed.

Working two jobs has shown me what my Mom and Dad had sacrificed in their lives in order to give their children a brighter and more rewarding future. Working two jobs has shown me how blessed I am to even have one job! There are so many people in this world who would love to work and be employed, but are either not physically or mentally able to work. How blessed am I that I get to have two jobs to complain about? Working two jobs has given me insight as to what single moms and dads must go though regularly, but with children. I cannot even imagine. I complain about having to work two jobs just to ensure that I can party hard during my limited down time, but what about those people who have nothing after they punch their time clock at the end of the week? I really never knew I needed to work two jobs to feel compassion and empathy for those who have it way worse than I.

With that being said, I will say that I have spent a lot of time crying over the last year. Rightfully so, I have been physically and mentally exhausted at times. There have been days when I did not think I would even be able to make it out of my bed because I was so emotionally drained, but I did. I got out of bed. I would go to work. I would listen to sad songs on my way home and I would ball my eyes out like a three year old who did not get his or her own way in a candy store. However, I am absolutely not ashamed of this because crying is awesome.

Over the last year, I have realized how beneficial crying regularly can be for my sanity. I will cry when I am happy. I cry like an absolute loon when I am frustrated and I cannot find the words I need to express my emotions. I cry when I am sad. I’ll cry if I find a commercial to be overly sentimental, but I love it. I will say, that I have also found swearing often and aggressively to be equally therapeutic, but I enjoy a good tear fest way more than a good cuss word. After a long day of work or an equally stressful personal day, I never knew how much I needed to let myself express what I am feeling, especially when it comes to tears. I no longer hold back my tears, and I will especially not hold them back when I am sharing a conversation with a close friend.

I have always had a small group of close personal friends that I could turn to no matter what. I have a few friends from high school and a few friends from college and thereafter who I would be terribly lost without. Each of them provides me with a unique and diversified perspective on life and if I am being honest…men. However, the best part about each of these girls who have decided that I am just sane enough to be friends with, even in public, have all been sounding boards for some of the toughest decisions in my life. Each of them has encouraged me to break connections with unhealthy relationships in my personal and professional life, they have taught me the importance of understanding that my path is different from theirs, and that they can be strong for me when I am feeling weak, which is exactly what I needed this year.

The time I have spent with my friends over this last year has been some of the best quality time I have ever shared with them. In high school or college, many of our conversations would be superficial or unremembered due to a high intake of alcohol. However, the older we get,  I am finding that our conversations are becoming that much more valuable. We take time to listen to each other speak, we hear what one another is saying and we respond thoughtfully. Our conversations are filled with disgusting information about each others bowel movements, children’s vomit, breast feeding, poor hygiene due to a lack of time, and how much sex we may, or in my case, may not be having. This year, my friends, inadvertently, made me realize that I never knew I needed to understand how insanely beautiful their paths are, so that I can understand how unique my path and my future can be too.

This year, I really learned that my path is my own. In order to walk my very own ‘yellow bring road’, I needed to learn how to let go. For the longest time, I have been holding on to so much that should have been let go of many years ago. Old relationships, college life, mistakes I have made, things I have said and done that have hurt others (intentionally and/or unintentionally), and regrets that I still think about to this day, they should have all been forgotten about many moons past. Spending more time than anyone should living like a troll in my Mom and Dad’s basement has given me the opportunity to become very introspective and this is something I NEVER knew I needed. Now that my eyes are open to the things I needed to let go of, I can see the beauty in the things I never knew I needed to happen this year.

I think that if I did not let go of old relationships that I was weirdly still grasping onto that I would not have been able to create new, and amazing, adult relationships with my exceptional family. If I had not let go of my anger towards having to work two jobs because my friends did not have this same responsibility, I would not have understood how blessed I am to be able to work at all. I definitely would not have understood how great it is enjoy my own version of therapy, in the form of tears. I am confident that if I was still holding on to my youth, that I would have no idea how to appreciate my friends for who they have become, instead of who they use to be, even though both have been equally wonderful. Over this last year, If I had not learned to let go of the things that have been negatively impacting my life, I would have never known that what I needed all along was to rediscover who I was as a daughter, a person, and a friend and that is what has given me the strength to buy a home, all on my own.