With my college commencement just mere days away a lot has been going through my mind. Looking back on this journey called Brigham Young University-Idaho, I am in awe to see how much I’ve grown and to see how far I’ve come. Starting here four and a half years ago, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, terrified 18 year old daughter of God who was so incredibly insecure of herself that it was a miracle she could walk into a room without passing out. This scared young woman ironically knew that she wanted to be a performer and she also knew that she would do whatever it took to get there; even if that meant she wouldn’t get married and have a family. I left for college with the mindset that I would prove everyone wrong; that I would soon be on top of the performance world and laugh at everyone who said “you can’t” from on high.
But, I was a great actress, so I hid it all and acted like nothing fazed me when it actually very much did. That year I also made some incredible, wonderful life-long friends that I very much hope to be in touch with for the rest of my life and beyond. Casey and Rebecca Buttle are my rocks; they are my family and I am so grateful for them. They have been there for me through thick and thin and have encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit. I owe a lot to them, more things than I can say on this blog, but I love them and I am so thankful that Heavenly Father saw fit to put them into my life. They have changed me for the better.
The end of this week my friends, will bring to a close one journey and start the beginning of another. After meeting new friends while saying goodbye and good luck to old ones, through the ups and downs of relationships and losing my first love, after going through the agonizing decision of changing my major and trading my current dreams for new ones, after the craziness of my home life, late nights studying in the snow building, after being diagnosed with severe food intolerances, crippling, chronic migraines and other health problems, through gigantic spiritual, physical, mental and spiritual changes, after terrifying financial uncertainty…through all of that…I have made it. I did it. WE did it.
And now, four a half years later, through God’s divine love and intervention, I am a 22 year old, educated, beautiful, confident, driven and compassionate daughter of God. Through this journey called college, I have learned to see myself for who I truly am; I have learned what truly matters in life. I have come to embrace this imperfect body of mine for the masterpiece and work-in-progress that it is. I know what my purpose in life is and I also know what I have to do to obtain it and what I will have to do to keep it. God has blessed me so much; through my trials He has taught me lessons that I would not have been able to learn any other way and I am eternally grateful that He loves me enough to hurt me. I would not be the person I am today without His encouragement, guidance, reassurance and support. I would not be who I am today with my trials.
And to all of you who thought that I couldn’t; who thought that I would never get here and made a point of telling me so frequently, take a message back from me…… I’m defying gravity and you can’t bring me down.
So, to start my thank you’s to all of the wonderful, beautiful friends I have made and changed me for the better. Guys, this one’s for you-
To Trish and Russell Dickerson- You have changed me in ways that I cannot even begin to count. You have opened your hearts and your home to me no questions asked and taken care of me like I was family. I will never be able to say how much you both mean to me. I love you.
To Cassie Burton- We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we? I want you to know that you are a strong, beautiful, and amazing daughter of God. Do not change for others; but instead, love yourself for who you are and do something that you want to do. You deserve that. We have been on SO many ridiculous adventures and outings and made one another feel awkward in ways that I will not even begin to describe here. (Ok, so maybe it was just YOU making ME feel awkward.) We’ve been each other’s support when we had no one else to turn to. Go out into this world my dearest heart and change it. Make them remember Cassandra Burton.
To Abbey Anderson- I have one question for you…do you hear the people sing? Oh geez, we won’t get into that. I could be here for hours. I am so grateful to have decided those TWO semesters out of my sophomore year to live at American Manor. Without that decision, I would not have met you. You have helped me and supported me through so much; you’ve nodded your head when I ranted about auditions and crazy English professors, held me when I cried over some idiot that broke my heart, let me crash at your apartment for a week at a time when I had less than desirable living conditions, eagerly discussed our mutual love for nerdy things and sampled my new, allergen free recipes. Love ya!
To the crazy, awesome, wonderful and downright insane friends and professors in the BYU-Idaho theatre department (there are WAY too many of you to mention by name)- Where do I even begin? All of you, every single one of you, have made my life richer. You've pushed me to be better and helped me to do so. You've helped me to hone my craft into something downright spectacular. It’s great to look back and see how much we've grown. I will never forget all of the wonderful things that we've done together and experienced with one another. I hope none of you ever change. Now go out there and make me proud! (Shout out to all my Quilters’ gals!)
To my sister, Heather and her husband, Jeremy- I don’t even know what to say. You have helped me grow so much. You have been my spiritual support through some of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to go through. You have been my sanctuary, my Mecca; the place I always go back to. Thank you for being who you are and being the incredible examples that you are to me. You’ve helped keep me on the right path, the path that God wanted me to be on and I will be eternally grateful to you both for doing that. I love you.
To my mother, Kelly- how do I even begin to thank you for all that you’ve done for me? I suppose you’ll just say that all that you’ve done is what any mother would do for her child, but you’re different. You’re special and wonderful and I’m glad that you’re mine. I have learned so much from you and I’m glad that you’ve been able to help me the way that you have. Thank you for all of the encouragement, telling me to keep going, telling me that I could do it; for the late night hospital visits and food and medicine runs, for all of the doctor visits and believing me when they wouldn’t; for looking out for my best interests and listening to me and being there for me when I just needed my mum. You are an incredible person. Thank you for who you are and what you do for me every day.
To my incredibly talented and awesome friends in the music department (again, there are just WAY too many of you to name)- Can I just say how awesome you are? I’ve loved our time together laughing and eating and concocting adventures that would make any sane person raise their eyebrows in concern. Thank you for all of the fun nights at concerts, late night sing-alongs to Enchanted and a special shout-out to my friends in collegiate; for embracing and including me as if I were still in choir and joining in on getting mad at a certain English professor. I hope to keep in contact with each and every one of you for many, many years to come and I expect to get free tickets to your professional concerts and copies of your CD’s before they’re commercially available.
To Desiree Ducharme- You have always been there for me and even though it’s been a few years since we’ve seen each other, I know that you always will be. I know that I can call you and talk to you for hours like we’ve never been apart. You probably are the only person on this planet who knows me better than I know myself. You’ve supported me so much and I love you for that. Thank you for just being there. I love you.
There are just too many people to mention that have been a part of my success at BYU-Idaho (Cody Dean, Megan Done, Ethan Bernard, Casey Pappas, Niki Ellis, Danielle Hart, Derek Clareidge, Tamara McLain, Jessica McCown, Allison Vest etc.) and I’m sad that I don’t have time to mention all of you. If I did mention all of you, there would be pages and pages of thank you’s that you or I would never be able to get through. So, here is one last song for us to share together that pretty much sums up how I feel about all of you.
For Good- Wicked