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On our way to New York, I received a long message from two of my best friends, Shannon and Shanelle. One of the drawbacks of being over-scheduled is that you don’t get to see people you care about too often.

Shannon is good at everything, but humble enough that it doesn’t make you feel shitty about yourself. She has a boyfriend that she loves and a job that she hates. I went to Kindergarten with Shanelle. She knows things about me that I would rather keep as grey spots in my memory. We don’t lie to each other. Ambition can isolate you from people, but the good ones stick even if it’s just a mindful check up twice a month.

I don’t spend a lot of time around people my age. Rather, I don’t spend a lot of time around people my age that do what I do and have what I have. I imagine 23 year olds to have more of a social life outside of their job. They go to clubs more than fitness shows and they’re happy to live with five other people, all making menial wages. I find that a lot of girls my age look at my life as a castle in the air full of egocentric, Herculean men.

There have been more than a few nights where I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. And there was more than one night that I wanted to say, “Fuck it.” I started writing to put things into perspective for myself. It seems like I’ve made all the right moves. But I’ve made all the right moves other people are too scared to make, and that can become a very lonely place. Lucky for me, I have a duo that keeps me grounded. They know how to make me laugh. And, at the very least, they know where to get a good burger.

My show lands on Shanelle’s 24th birthday. After a few more weeks of this, I’m going to need a birthday drink or two. I’m 7 weeks out this weekend and I’ve made it to the halfway point. As my face gets thinner, I feel like I’m watching my youth and vitality slip away. When I started this, I thought I had a bachelor’s in contest prep. I wasn’t prepared for the messy, emotional thoughts that go along with it. I assumed that I could turn off my brain. It’s fine, though. I have good people in my life.

And no, Shannon. You can’t borrow that top.

Brooke

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