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It's Our Turn: A de-crowned princess

I have always thought I was a princess.

Growing up, I was under the impression that everything revolved around me and that people should bow before my feet.

If I didn't like what was happening, I thought everyone should change what they were doing. If I wasn't winning, I thought that people should start playing poorly. Every hard moment I went through, every heartbreak and loss, I thought was the worst possible thing and that no one could comprehend the pain or the loneliness.

I was naïve, and yet I wore my crown proudly, until I started to actually listen.

For the past three years, I have sat down with hundreds of different people and listened to their unique stories.

I have met upcoming country stars and bedridden mothers. I have met homeless people and people who were recently given a home. I have talked to children and the elderly and everyone in between. I have heard the pain in a mother's voice as she tells me about her 2-year-old with a brain tumor and the passion in a 6-year-old who had fought through it. I have heard the longing of people who just want to be healed and others who want to help heal others. I have heard the gratitude for new friends and groups that have changed people's lives. I have seen the tears and the sorrow, the laughter and the joy.

I have been able to listen, hear their journey and learn what they have learned.

Each of these people has made me who I am today. Each of them has given me a little bit of knowledge and opened my eyes to the world just a little bit more. They have shown me what true love is and that I should live each moment and cherish each breath. They have reiterated the fact that I should tell my parents how much I love them and that the world is too short to live the way someone else wants me to live. They have all been my psychologists and my Buddha, and I am truly grateful.

I am grateful that they have trusted me enough to share their stories with me. I am grateful that they have taken time out of their lives to talk with me.

But I am most thankful that I was given this opportunity in the first place.

I walked into the Echo Press three summers ago with no intention of ever wanting to be a journalist. I saw interning at the paper as an exciting summer job and that was all.

But then I fell in love with it. Now I don't know how I could live without it.

People gave me a simple yes, believed in me enough to give me the opportunity, and that has forever changed my life.

Journalism, to me, isn't just about writing. It is about meeting phenomenal people and encapsulating their lives into words so others can hear about their journey and learn what they have to share. It has shown me the depth of humankind and how strong and resilient people are in the most incomprehensible of experiences.

It has opened my eyes to the world and changed me forever.

I am not the princess I thought I was three years ago. I am the princess of the two foot bubble around me, and I couldn't be more pleased that my kingdom has diminished.

Thank you for the opportunity and the patience. Thank you for the bits of advice and the meaningful memories.

Thank you for believing in me.

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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.