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“Growing up, I moved around a lot. My dad was in the military, so we lived in a lot of different places. We moved 9 times. We lived in Utah, Maryland, Texas, and then California. It kinda sucked. Every time I’d get settled in a new place, we’d have to move again. I had to become really independent and I also learned to rely on my family and become close with my sisters. It’s what taught me to include other people, because I knew what it felt like to feel alone.

In junior high I had just moved to northern California and I didn’t know anyone from the school or the whole town. I felt like I didn’t belong. I had my family and I was fine, but it was really hard, because there were times when I felt, ‘Why does this have to happen? Why can’t I just grow up in the same house?’

My mom would always tell me, ‘This sucks, but you can either take this situation and wallow in it and feel sorry for yourself, or if you are feeling crappy about yourself, get outside yourself and do something for someone else.’ She definitely taught me how to step outside of saying, ‘oh this sucks. I’m in a crappy situation. I’m alone. I’m sad,’ and instead say, ‘I still have so many blessings, and I can go try to make someone else’s life better.’ Service is kinda selfish cause it makes you feel better.

She’s my best friend. We fought of course like any mother daughter duo would, but we became so close because I told her everything. I think it’s gonna be like that forever and I’m grateful for that. Yesterday I was talking to my mom on the phone. She found one of my old high school ID cards and she started crying on the phone saying, ‘I feel so bad we put you through all of that moving and having that crappy junior high and high school experience.’ I said, ‘Mom, it’s ok. I don’t want you to feel guilt for that.’ We both talked about how it has shaped me and shaped her and shaped our relationship with each other and as a family. Me and my two little sisters and my dad and mom are really close. Having that opportunity to be close with my family is invaluable. ”