three years!

by Kaylah Stroup

1st apartment alone. 2014.

I love holidays. Honestly, any excuse to celebrate is fine by me! It’s Valentine’s Day which is really just a day for overpriced flowers, and cheesy proposals. I have no problem with either… well, I did make Jeff agree to never propose on a holiday but that’s neither here nor there. Today I’m not only celebrating Valentine’s Day but I’m celebrating three years in Cleveland! It’s weird because on one hand I feel like I just moved here, and on the other it’s like I’ve been here my whole life.

I’ve briefly touched on the subject many times, most recently in a post titled ‘just me, in my element‘ back in October. Maybe an important read if you’d like a little bit of backstory on me? Making that leap, and moving to Cleveland on my own was one of the most important decisions of my life thus far. It was terrifying to have never lived alone, to be struggling with social anxiety, and to leave this “cozy” life I had built behind. It was the right choice for me though. I can honestly say I have never once looked back after making that big decision.

 Feb+March 2014. We spent a lot of time in the photobooth.

We haven’t talked in a while (All my fault. Ya girl is the worst at texting back!) but I owe a debt of gratitude to Mickey for basically showing me that a woman can be successful, and happy on her own. She was just this single girl out there, doing her thang and killin’ it. I didn’t realize it at the time but I got a lot of my strength from her those first few months. I don’t think we ever really discussed what I was going through, and to be honest, I don’t even feel like I knew what a big deal everything was until much later. It’s funny how sometimes life just throws you the right people at the right time. She definitely helped me land on my feet. Thank you so much, Mickey.

I think without meeting her I may never had the idea to even move here in the first place. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, the city was kind of a scary for me. Okay, it was reeally scary to me. I adapted quickly though. In a post back in March of 2014 I wrote “I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be right now. Initially a little nervous about city living, my fears have disappeared! This place is perfect for me.” It’s only gotten better since then, especially now that I’m living in my absolute favorite neighborhood in my dream apartment.

Instagram photos from February 2014. I can still smell that apartment if I think about it real hard.

I know a lot of people think Instagram holds no real value but I love looking back at these photos from that pivotal point in my life. The one of the keys, despite being a really ugly poorly composed photo, is one I’m especially happy to have. That photo was from this day in 2014. It blows my mind how radically different my life is now compared to three years ago. At the risk of being cheesy by using the most silly, overused example out there, I really was like a goldfish in a small tank. Cleveland has been the great body water I needed to grow.

I am so happy to live where I do, to have grown as much as I have, and to have been able to meet so many great people in this city. I’m extremely proud of myself for taking that leap, and so thankful for those who helped me along the way. Basically if we’ve been in touch in the last three years, you’ve probably impacted my life in some meaningful way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

My Valentine + the city I love so dearly.

No matter what your relationship status is, don’t forget to celebrate yourself and all the people who help make your life special today! I hope you have an amazing Valentine’s Day!

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