A few weeks ago, my friend Kelly Boylan invited me to be a part of an amazing project called “I’ve Got Your Back.” To say I was thrilled is an understatement. Kelly is incredibly talented and I had already binge read all of her IGYB interviews before she asked me to be a part of it. In Kelly’s words, “I’ve Got Your Back” is “inspired by my own journey with self-acceptance. It’s inspired by my feminist beliefs and a desire to build sisterhood and community. It’s inspired by the beautiful women in my life. Each woman photographed is an inspiration in her own way.”

Yesterday, I had two conversations that stuck with me. They were completely different, but they both put me in that introspective mood that had my wheels turning all night.

The first conversation was with a woman who was upset with her boyfriend. His social media usage (specifically towards other women) bothered her, but she didn’t want to seem petty or “psycho” by asking him to stop liking/commenting/following other women on his various apps.

The second conversation was with a friend who had received an uncomfortable and hurtful comment about her body. She brushed it off at the time because the situation was so unpleasant, but privately she was in complete distress over it.

When I think “bachelorette party,” I think tequila shots, Bride sashes, bikinis, and phallic-shaped accessories – probably not amazing epiphanies and healing revelations. I had my bachelorette this past weekend, though, and I had all of the above (minus the tequila, thank God). If you follow me on social media, you know we checked off every cliché in the book: the tiara, the sash, the matching swimsuits, the posed group photos. It was a fun weekend for everyone. For ME, it was something I really, really, really needed.

 I’ve wanted to write this blog for a long time. A really, really long time. I’ve been putting it off for a couple of reasons. First, there aren’t words that can do this man justice. I want to honor him properly, and I know I’m not a talented enough writer to do that. Second, I don’t even know what to say. Truthfully, I struggle with a lot shame that I wasn’t the best friend I could’ve or should’ve been, and when I write about my relationship with Justin I know I can’t sugarcoat that emotion. Regardless, I decided it’s time that I at least try to write about this guy. After all, his friendship and his death altered the course of my life, and it seems insane that I haven’t touched on it yet.

When my middle school cross-country team gave out awards at the end of the season, I received the “Bottomless Pit” award for my impressive appetite. One summer in high school, I dominated a challenge called “The Dynamite Dozen” that consisted of eating 12 bowls of ice cream. In college, an entire fraternity knew me as “Butters.” I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say I didn’t not drunkenly eat plain butter. For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to eat and I like to eat a lot.

When Jeremy and I moved to California in June, it was a monumental moment for me in several ways. It was my first cross-country move, it was the official start of my freelance writing career, and it was my first time living with a boy! Big changes, right? It’s funny ­– if you had asked 15-year-old Caroline if I would ever cohabit with a boyfriend, I would have emphatically said NO. In my mind, that was off limits until I was married, “or at least engaged.” Two things I’d point out to 15-year-old Caroline… 1) Rent ain’t cheap, especially if you’re spending all your time in one place anyways and 2) You’ll know a ring is coming long before it actually does, so don’t try to be cute and coy by signing a year-long solo lease.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a bit of… feedback from a friend. I don’t want to get into details, but basically they called me out on something I had done. It was incredibly polite, it was honest, and it was clearly heartfelt. Naturally, I took it terribly.

“Can you believe this? Can you even believe how passive aggressive this is? Plus, she’s wrong. That wasn’t even the situation,” I fumed to Jeremy, pacing in the kitchen and pointing at my phone like a cartoon.