Photo via Instagram / @jordannnleee

It didn’t hit me when I started to pack up my suitcase. It didn’t hit me when I returned my key to the building. It didn’t hit me when we rocked our end-of-program Vogue-style photoshoot.

It hit me on July 4, when I was sitting on a lifeguard post on a Malibu beach watching fireworks with three girls who have become my best friends in just seven weeks.

We were talking about highs and lows of our time at ENTITY Academy and sharing how we’ve grown. That’s when it hit me: our time as part of the ENTITY Academy was really coming to a close. As we sat, I just stared at the sky and tried to soak in every last detail. It was a moment I wanted to remember forever.

What I learned at ENTITY Academy

I’ve spent the last seven weeks interning with ENTITY and I can say with complete confidence that what I learned from this program are things that can’t be taught. Sure, I learned some hard skills — things that can be taught (you can check out an article on that here). However, my biggest takeaway from this summer won’t be a new ability I learned, but the fact that I’m walking away as a completely different person.

Over the course of my time here, I’ve learned that change is scary, but necessary; that pushing boundaries is the best way to grow. When you go outside your comfort zone, growth is inevitable. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with sticking up for what you want and what you deserve. Nobody is going to do your work for you. I’ve learned that finding your voice is a process and that it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve learned that there’s nothing harder than saying goodbye.

I will remember that July 4 night for the rest of my life. My three closest friends and I sat on the lifeguard post, arms around each other, feet dangling over the edge, watching the sky light up on Malibu beach. watching fireworks. For four East-coast girls, it was truly a surreal moment, and I know we all felt the gravity of the situation. Our time together was running out. We would no longer be roommates. We would no longer work together every day, or explore Los Angeles together on the weekends.

I couldn’t believe it. We talked about how none of us had ever bonded with roommates or friends as quickly and as deeply as we did, so we know we’ll be friends forever. Even though it won’t be the same, we’ll continue to be in each other’s lives.

We talked about how much we’ve grown, both professionally and personally. We learned how to speak up for ourselves, to demand respect and to give it back. We’re leaving here with clearer ideas of what we want to do with our lives, and who we want to be as people. We talked about the future and where we see ourselves, and what that means for our friendships. We know we’ll see each other again, whether we visit each other at school or after graduation when we’re all looking for jobs in N.Y. or LA.

It’s a big step, and we’re sad to be parting ways, but we’re all grateful to know that this is not the end of the road, it’s only the beginning.

While I don’t know what the future holds, I know that it’ll involve my passion, and for now… that is enough. I can’t thank ENTITY Academy enough for helping me find my way in this scary post-grad world, and for making the transition between undergrad and grad school as painless (and as inspiring) as possible!

I plan to continue following my passion for writing, to continue standing up for what I believe in, and to continue valuing my voice and my ability to use it. Here at ENTITY we are truly #WomenThatDo, and looking back on my first article about what I was looking forward to, I know that I experienced way more than I could have ever thought possible.

Up ahead, there’s only open doors. Thank you ENTITY Academy 2018!

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