I know you inside and out. On the inside you’re filled with pins and accomplishments, in the left pocket is a piece of paper that reads, “Understanding”, and on the right elbow is a stain from cupcake icing. On the front is my name and on the back says where I’m from. You’re hot in the summer and cold in the winter. You were my life for five years, and today I took you off for the last time; so there you hang in my closet.
Since I was fourteen, you taught me lessons most don’t learn until they’re well into adulthood. I can nail the perfect job interview and give a strong handshake, interact with a room full of strangers, and run a proper meeting. You taught me to give the perfect sales pitch and even how to properly ask for a donation to support a good cause. You taught me how to help others not only in their time of need, but on a regular basis. You taught me to be a well-rounded adult, well before I ever reached the age of eighteen.
You’ve traveled across the United States with me. You’ve traveled the state, visited the nation’s capital twice, and taken part in conventions in Louisville and Indianapolis with me. No matter where we went together, you allowed me to connect with others and build lifelong friendships. At Washington Leadership Conference, you gave me the boost of courage I needed to open up with a room full of strangers and find potential in myself.
When I was standing in front of a room of people, nervous as can be, you managed to comfort me. You made me a leader and confident that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. When things did not go as planned, you were still there waiting to give it another try when the time came around. You took a shy little high schooler and made me into a courageous leader.
So, to the corduroy jacket hanging in my closet – I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss the adventures we went on and the great times we shared, but always know I will never forget you. Every experience we had together taught me a new life lesson that I will carry with me. You gave me the chance to become the best that I could be and still allow me to strive to be better. You made me who I am today, and I am forever grateful.