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West Valley’s class of 2019 joyfully tosses their caps as confetti falls at their June 7 graduation in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

This all happened so fast. Everyone said senior year would go by in a blur, but it’s such a cliche thing that I honestly didn’t believe it. Then it happened.

I graduated in what simultaneously felt like a few days and a few years since I began my senior year of high school. In retrospect, it went by so fast, and this last month was a blur, but as I was working toward this major life milestone, the days dragged on.

Everyone told me that senior year would be amazing and one of the best years of my life. For me, it wasn’t. This year was punctuated by disappointment, stress and anxiety. I’ve shed so many tears this year, which can be attributed both to fear for the future and the pain of saying goodbye to everything I’ve known for the last four, 13, and 18 years. It wasn’t a great year and, to be honest, I’m glad it’s over.

It seemed like this day would never come. Now that it has, I don’t really know how to feel. I’m still processing just how much my life is about to change and how much it already has.

I’ve realized that my graduation isn’t just about me; it is about the community and support that have surrounded and blessed me, by people who helped me grow into who I am today. For my whole life, I have been surrounded by amazing family and fantastic friends who have loved me as I am and influenced my growth in amazing ways. Without this support system, I don’t have any idea what kind of person I would be today. My community truly is a blessing, and I’d be lost without the love and support of so many wonderful human beings.

I think this transition into adulthood would be infinitely more difficult without knowing I have so many people whom I can fall back on and hold onto when times get tough, and my family, my friends, and my friends who turned into family can never be thanked enough for that.

The one thing that helped me through this trying time most of all has been my faith. I have confidence that I am a child of a God who loves me and has more in store for me than I could ever imagine. Though change terrifies me to no end, I know the Lord has good in store for me. I’ve grown so much stronger in my faith these past four years, and I am so beyond thankful for the community of loving, godly people who are always there to comfort me and point me in the right direction.

I don’t know what the future holds, and the truth is, neither does anyone else on this earth. An often-cited (and probably a bit overused) verse that is truly resonant in this season of life is Jeremiah 29:11:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

I cling to this verse and this truth today and every day. I don’t know what these next few years have in store for me, but I’m excited to find out and to follow the path that God has laid out for me.

Well, Yakima Valley, it’s been a great four years. I don’t have all the answers, and change continues to be a difficult thing for me, but I know that I will be OK. Thank you for reading my ramblings these past four years and never sending me hate mail. (I definitely would have cried.)

I’m thankful for the amazing opportunity to write for Unleashed these past four years, and through this program I’ve grown in a variety of ways. It’ll be weird not writing for this program anymore, but I’m beyond excited to see what lies ahead.

Meirabelle Brown is a 2019 graduate of Naches Valley High School, has served as this year’s editor of Unleashed’s Facebook site, and is the only four-year member of the 2018-19 Unleashed team. She plans to complete her associate degree at Yakima Valley College this fall, then pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in speech/language pathology.