averyIt was the single most difficult decision I’d had to make: Accepting an internship in New York City for the summer. That doesn’t seem like a hard decision in retrospect, but at the time, it was.

The year before had been less than forgiving to me. My dad died in September. For the rest of the year, I was walking on uneven emotional terrain. I questioned what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I pulled away from friends. Denounced the “live it up” college lifestyle. People are so reckless with their lives. It was sickening to me. I was probably depressed, but I felt like I was entitled to be. I focused on nothing but an impending career. All I wanted to do was escape.

With the new year, I took a leap of faith and applied for internships in New York City. It had always been my dream to live there. Find myself. However, due to my natural cynicism, I felt like I wasn’t qualified enough. When I didn’t hear back immediately, I started applying for some in my hometown. I accepted a radio internship in Charlotte and became content with spending the summer with family. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up. The pain I’d experienced in the past year had numbed me. I found it hard to have hope.

Then, I got a call. A website specializing in entertainment reporting, HollywoodLife.com, called me up and asked for an interview. A week later, they offered me an internship. I immediately retracted my radio internship and accepted.

It was like a light clicked back on inside me. After a year of nothing but suffering, I was finally happy about something. Yet, I was scared. What if wasn’t good enough? Also, I’d never stayed outside North Carolina longer than a week. I’ve watched one too many “Law and Order: SVU’s” and my mom always reminds me that the world is not a nice place.

I was now at a crossroads of emotions. I was excited about all the possibilities ahead of me. But I was also sad about leaving my family behind. What if something happened to me? What if something happened to mom, Katy or Will and I couldn’t get back immediately? I’m irrationally paranoid, but we lost dad so unexpectedly, it’s hard not to be.

When the departure date drew nearer, I became nervous. It all hit me as my mom drove me from my home to Charlotte Douglas Airport. I cried. A lot. First, it was bratty tears because I had to leave clothes I thought I needed behind. Then, when my mom left me in the security line I just started ugly crying. My mom is my best friend. Like peas and carrots, she says. We’re incredibly close and were even closer after this year. I didn’t want to leave her.

But I knew that if I didn’t go now, I’d never go.

The summer in New York City healed me. I worked red carpets. I attended movie premieres. Talked to celebrities I’d only ever dreamed of talking to. I wrote about the movies and television shows that I’d only wrote for myself in a blog. Everything I could possibly want actually happened.

I finally found people who saw me. The HollywoodLife office became the only place I wanted to be. When I became Andy’s, the entertainment director’s first intern, and cemented myself a place right next to him and Eleanore, a fellow entertainment reporter with an extra Irish spunk, I was elated. Emily, an editorial assistant at the time, became one of my best friends complete with “The O.C.” marathons and a mutual love for Richard Gere.

They understood my passion and they mentored me. Andy, Emily, and Eleanore…they became the older siblings I never had. I was able to find my niche and cultivate it over three months. I am indebted to them for guiding me.

Leaving was like ripping stitches. Just like when I left North Carolina, I sobbed in the airport. Yet, I came to one realization: Those stitches can be sewn back and the next time, they’ll be completely healed.

I’ve put my life back together and I’m ready for what lies ahead. I’m no longer a battleground of emotions. I’ve repaired myself and experienced living in a way I didn’t know was possible.

I no longer question my destiny. I know exactly what I want. North Carolina is my past. New York is my future.

As I returned home, my mom was there waiting. She held my hand so tightly as she drove from the airport. She told me how proud she was of me. She said I am fulfilling my dream, one she always wanted for herself. No one deserved it more than me, she said.

My senior year has been about nothing but finding a way to get back to New York. It’s my future. It’s where I belong. I will find a way back. New York just keeps calling me home.