This is a bold statement, but I truly believe the greatest blessing in life is the ability to have moments of clarity. I experienced one while taking this picture in the middle of Lake Shasta last weekend. We were going 5 miles per hour on a houseboat (desperately trying to make it to the marina to fix a broken septic tank and engine), in therapeutic 85 degree weather. The noise around me was white, the sky above me was clear. It was a feeling of gratitude. And it was a turning point in my life (I could feel it). Three years into college - having gone through identity crisises, heartbreaks, the feeling of worthlessness, feeling invisible...misunderstood, unfocused, without vision, without reciprocated love...I finally realized that life is - poetic. I realized every moment I spent tormented by anything, were moments of poetry. Yes, I believe we experience lowest lows to have ups. But more importantly, I think we need to recognize that life is more special with those darker moments. It means we are living. It means we are worthy; that we are living deeply and with intention. Thank god because of it. It shouldn't be common to feel that anyone or anything has gotten the best of us. My alltime favorite quote of the year comes from Amy Curtis. One day she told me, "Play offense in life." It was a day that had gotten the best of me. She could tell I had been defeated. She said, "Jenna, have confidence in who you are. If people don't respond accordingly that's their fault - they are pawns in your life." That's the greatest thing we can do for ourselves. Play offense. We can't be convinced that we are less than we are if we love who we are. College, especially is a time to be selfish. My mom told me that once during freshman year, and I've (clearly) run with it. I talked to at least four friends this weekend, all who I knoww feel deeply and personally defeated by life in different ways, and understandably so. The most important thing is to remember that we can love who we are in any given moment. Our essence never goes away. But also, we have control over what makes us, us - no one else has that power. If we are pleased with who we are, nothing else matters. Relying on other people to validate us takes too long, and the outcome won't meet our expectations when we do finally get that "validation". People can surprise us. In my opinion, it's the best part. By putting "me" first, we put others (no matter how disappointed in them we are) in the position to exceed our expectations.