When I was about to turn 24 last year many people told me 24 was their favorite year. They either landed that job they wanted, graduated from college or for many of my girlfriends it was the year they found the love of their lives. I was excited going into the year because I already had the job I wanted, traveled a lot and graduated from college.

So what is next on many girls’ list? Love. I thought finally after all the terrible dating and the assholes that I allowed to treat me like shit, I may finally get that chance like all my girlfriends to find the love of my life. As I am two months away from turning 25, that is definitely not the case.

The year of being 24 was not about anything else but finding my own strength and growing in such a different, mature way.

I was always mature and seemed to always be heading in the right direction but like most girls we all have those ghost we try not to bring out and we each have those immature moments where we let a guy or an event get the best of us. I started 24 off with traveling around the states, fixing a couple relationships that were broken in my life, receiving a new unexpected position at work and preparing myself for my first mission trip. Seems decent right?

However, June came with some terrible news and drama that was so unneeded in my life. I definitely let it get the best of me. However, how I handled the situation was very different than I ever would have before. I finally could see myself maturing into a stronger person. I promised myself in the month of July to let go of all the negatively surrounding me and focus on the goal of my mission work in Africa. I did just that and my trip to Africa changed my life and my outlook on everything.

Becoming a stronger woman is just the simplest way to put it. I learned some really important things at the age of 24

  1. I no longer felt the need for a man to ruin my mascara because at the end of the day I had the choice to allow someone to treat me a certain way.

  2. I no longer felt the need to let the words of people that do not know me affect me as much

  3. I opened up more with communication and was honest with how I felt no matter the outcome instead of holding it inside and only sharing with my best friends

  4. I finally learned that actions are way stronger than words and that anyone can tell you what you want to hear. However, how they treat you and how they stand by your side at your weakest really lets you know the person they truly are.

I can’t say these things don’t affect me to some extent at all but I have learned I do not have to deal with or put up with half the stress or drama I used to.

I always thought I was strong, however this past year taught me more about strength than I will ever be able to describe. As I have stated before in blogs, I took months off from dating to let myself take care of finding out who I was. I recently started getting back out there. The outcome came down to understanding what I want, who I want and my passions in life. I have learned about compromise, healthy relationships, communication and finding what love really means.

Its crazy to look back at the year and see where I was and who I am now. The way I look at my relationships, value friendships and look at my faith is completely different.

When people say “people do not change.” I disagree. I do believe however, a person has to let go of who they were. They have to let go of the negativity in their lives to fully make the change to who they want to be. It was some of the hardest decisions I have ever made but I have never been stronger.

I now am one month away from being 25, have I found the love of my life? No. But what I did find was love for myself. I always knew I loved myself but over the past six months I took the time to get to know myself even more and it has helped shape me into a much stronger person.

I hope you take the time to get to know yourself if you haven’t done so yet. Love is so important but you have to love yourself first and you have to figure out what you want before you can love someone else.

Strong. My definition for the age of 24. As much as it terrifies me to admit to myself I am turning 25 and what it can bring, I hope I only grow to become more mature, adventurous and even stronger.

So what is your definition? How do you define yourself? I would love to hear your stories!