Here in this wonderful article, you are about to witness what has gone on in my life and in my head, in the last three months. I would have never seen myself in the position that I am in today. I am breathing, sleeping, learning, and prospering. In half of the time that it takes to have a child, I have decided to change the course of my life, quite literally.

My plan after high school was to go to a junior college in the very rural Keyser, West Virginia. The population in 2016 was only about 5,200 people. Accessible wi-fi is a new thing there (and nothing particularly fast). The school was approximately 75% Caucasian and I was gonna be the 25% other. There was no LGBT hall or LGBT organizations. The best I could do was pay extra for a single room and try to go stealth in the hall bathrooms, which would be difficult. My life was going to be a dangerous hell.

About a month before graduation, I was having the time of my life. High school was finally almost over, and I was falling for this girl. And usually I don’t do relationships, but I really liked this girl. We were hanging out regularly and excited for life. But one day, everything took a complete 180 and I came up with an insane idea. I did not like where my life was going and I knew that I wanted to be able look back at my life and be proud.

“Hey mom and dad I want to go to UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). My mom was stricken with shock and deep sadness. My father was all for it. I knew it was a journey to come. Some more motivation came from a book I read during my senior year called Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. All I will say about it is that it truly changed my life and the way that I look at things.

Another week had passed, and I knew that it was what I had to do. So, I applied and did plenty of research about the requirements and costs. The thought was a little irrational at the time and was really pushed out of frustration which was in turn caused by this girl. But as is said many times, “It was the tip of the iceberg.”

I of course chose UNLV because they are one of the most diverse universities in the world and the most LGBT-friendly in Nevada. It is always warm here and it rarely rains. It was very far away from West Virginia, which was also nice. So, I sent in some test scores and made a couple of calls and before I knew it, I was accepted. I was working full time at McDonald’s for most of my summer, so I paid for everything myself. And even better after the first year, I would be able to receive in state tuition. Another great thing about Las Vegas is that it is “The City that Never Sleeps.” And I for one am a nocturnal creature. I spent my first night in the dorms on the Las Vegas strip with some friends that I had made that evening. We all came from different places and one I had known from social media a little bit before. However, that’s a story for a different time.

This of course was not an easy thing to do. I may not see my mother, father, sister, and cat for another year-and-a-half at the most, but other family is still around. Three weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I met my grandmother, uncles, and cousins. I had no clue what my uncle even looked like when he picked me up from the airport. I was not sure how they would do with the transition; however, I had not met them before when I was still a female, so nothing was awkward. I was slightly shy at first but warmed up quickly. I was soon going for walks in the evenings with my little cousins and watching their Youtube channel. My grandmother is an honest saint and I was truly blessed for her to let me stay in her house for a little before school. I truly do miss my family but I knew that this is what I had to do.

I did, however, have some setbacks. I am going to be going for five years instead of four because I can only afford to go part-time for this first year. I also don’t qualify for private loans (I don’t have any credit) and cannot find a creditworthy cosigner, so I am surviving off of federal loans, the Pell Grant, and some money from the VA because of my father’s military disability. I know how to survive though so if worst comes to worse I’ll find something to live on.

Sometimes I know I should just go for it and not hold myself back because I require specific needs such as a single room or to room with another trans person. I believe we should seek discomfort because I have moved way out of my comfort zone but have so far met some great people from across the world. I finally made it to the West Coast, and I mean… I am in Las Vegas! And I actually live here. It’s kind of insane but be prepared for more crazy stories because I don’t know many people who moved 2,100 miles away from everything / everyone they know three days after turning 18.