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Last week I was sent my year 12 senior yearbook.
Yes, I finished high school almost four years ago and I'm only just now getting my senior yearbook, it's a long story.
To say I dreaded opening it was a bit of an understatement. I was going to be faced with old friends, old memories and more frighteningly, the old me.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect; I have a good memory, but even with that I had no idea what I wrote at the time....a time where I was blissfully happy and unaware of the shitty three years that would follow graduation.
To my surprise, my profile wasn't that bad. My nicknames have stayed the same (even if the people who use them are completely different), I still hold the memories of the trip I took to France in Year 11 close to my heart, my English teacher is still one of my high school highlights (shoutout to you Mr Walsh, you're still a legend) and something that caught my attention towards the end of what I had included made me incredibly proud of myself and what I have achieved, despite everything I've gone through, in such a short period of time.
I have never wanted to spend my whole life in my hometown of Perth.
Don't get me wrong, Perth is beautiful. There are some great beaches (even though I never liked the beach...thanks year 8 sports teachers!), lovely suburbs to grow up in, and all my family are there; but from a very young age I knew that Perth wasn't for me.
In year 12 I had to start making all sorts of decisions about my future; including where I would go to uni the following year.
Now, call me a dreamer (please, do it, I take it as a compliment), but none of my main choices were in Perth, they were all in Melbourne.
The idea of moving away and exploring and studying what I loved excited me to no end, and I was going to make it my goal to get there.
Of course, things aren't always that simple.
Regardless of any other obstacles, the main reason I decided to put my dreams on hold was simple; no one wanted me to go.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard "please don't go", "we'll miss you so much", "it's our first year out of high school, we're going to have all this fun without you", "you're going to miss out on soooo much" I would probably be in a better financial position than I am in right now.
I was made to feel like my dreams didn't matter, and that I was selfish to want them.
I chose to let go of my dreams of moving interstate so that I could hold onto the precious relationships that I had made in high school, the same precious relationships that post high school almost broke me.
My depression and anxiety got to a level where I didn't think I'd ever leave home; in fact, even something as small as seeing in every new day was an achievement for me.
But then I did something that surprised me, and surprised everyone around me; I chose life.
I chose me and my dreams, I gave them the validity that I should've given them all those years ago...I put all my fears behind me and I chose to believe in myself.
Well, those dreams are now the reality that I'm lucky enough to be living.
So when I saw on my yearbook profile that my answer for the question on where I saw myself in 10 years time was "not living in Perth"....the fact that I have just moved to Melbourne, a mere four years later, and reflecting on everything I've been through in the past four years, has really put into perspective how big an achievement it is for me.
So Olivia of the year 2013; the next few years of your life might be tough, you might be a bit lonely, you might lose people you never thought you would, you might feel like nothing will ever go right again, but girl, YOU have made your dreams a reality.
No one else.
And to anyone out there who is made to feel like their dreams don't matter; they do, you just have to believe in them, and believe in yourself to make them come true.