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My greatest inspiration, and my greatest influence, comes from not just one person but from a group. This group is my non-biological family, and happens to be a small, homegrown nonprofit organization. Without this group, I would not be the person I am today.
When I was just 17, and the others were that age or younger, a group of seven friends and I decided to break away from the inequity of our high school drama club and attempt a theatre troupe of our own. With a lot of hard work, passion, and dedication we managed to succeed, even when we were surrounded by doubts and skeptics. In one move, I became both the executive director of a completely student-run nonprofit organization and the director of a rambunctious, talented, and immensely loving troupe of actors.
And so a group of young people was put in a situation that would normally be very trying on a friendship. We were in business together. But instead of straining our bonds, it made them much stronger. Those seven people taught me and continue to teach me so much. Chris teaches me how to understand my own emotions; John teaches me how to laugh at the world; Emma teaches me how to speak my truth; Gio teaches me that it’s okay to be taken care of; Lili teaches me the virtue of innocence; Jill teaches me how to play and just let go; Andrea teaches me how to find my creativity. They each bring something special that helps me find who I am.
Though they each have unique personalities that I learn from, I also learn from the dynamic of our group. They helped me find and bring out my natural abilities in leadership and maternal affection. They give me the confidence to take risks, whether in business or in life. They make me laugh, and make my fears less scary. They love me unconditionally, regardless of my faults. They inspire me to write, to try harder, to be better, and to find myself.
These people, my best friends, are the most talented, dedicated, passionate, and loving people I know. We have been through more together than most groups of friends can say. And yet we’ve been able to stick together. We love and take care of and protect each other as a group. We conduct our business as a group. We created memories and laughter, heartache and tears as a group. We have grown up as a group.
These people have been my constant source of love, support, and encouragement. Individually and as a whole, they showed me who I am, and taught me how be that person to my fullest extent. They are my greatest and most important influence. By blood they may be my friends, but in my heart they are my family.
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