Recovered. || Austin Senior Photographer

This right here is my best friend, Kate. I have known her since I was one month old and we have been side-by-side through every stage of life together. What is so funny about our friendship is that we have so many similarities, yet SO many differences. We can laugh at them now and make jokes about it, but for so long I felt like I was letting Kate down for not enjoying the same things in life that she did. Growing up she was always very skilled on the computer, had a wide variety on her music playlist, enjoyed movies I had never heard of, and knew great restaurants to eat at downtown. Well, not much has changed! Kate and I constantly laugh at her question to me, "Have you heard of ____ band?" (Spoiler alert! Sometimes I would lie and say, "yes!" hoping that she would think I was semi-cool) Now, we just look at each other in silence and laugh and I usually follow up with, "Yeah, I know. You're going to have to teach me about them." Or, the occasional text "Hey Kate, who is a good 'easy listening' artist for my plane ride?" This girl knows her music and movies. I'm the worst at actor's names, but she keeps me in check! And on the other hand, I keep her in check with celebrity gossip, what the Kardashians are up to, and dating/married life dos and don'ts. See, we balance each other out. :) 

When I think of my life with Kate, I think of just being real and raw. When Kate came to me 10+ years ago to tell me that she had been struggling with an eating disorder for a while, I was taken back. We had spent so much time together, how did I not notice? I felt like a horrible friend for not being more attentive to her needs and what she was going through in secret. At the time, I knew nothing about eating disorders, but Kate was so patient with me and was willing to sit down and answer any questions that I had. She was real, vulnerable, honest, and I appreciated that so much. Over the years I have learned a lot more about eating disorders through this amazing woman. She created a blog, and honestly, reading her own words and experiences helped me understand her heart more than anything. I looked forward to each post because there were so many layers to an eating disorder that I hadn't quite thought about yet. Some posts were very hard to read because you never want to see your friend feel helpless and don't know what to say or how to help. I never wanted to be a trigger, or say something that would trigger Kate. But, as time went on, I knew that by not saying anything about her eating disorder was only hurting me. That's the beauty about a true friendship- having honest conversations and laying all of your fears out on the table. Since that day, Kate and I have been real, raw, and honest and I feel so fortunate to be a safe place for Kate.

Kate, you encourage me everyday to see the light in life, to belly laugh when I think something is funny, to belt out the Lone Bellow on a rainy afternoon in the car, and to constantly pour into people's lives the way you do. You are changing the world by telling your story, lobbying for rights for people with eating disorders, and for advocating for all of the men and women who have yet to find their voice. I am so proud of you for graduating with your degree in social work and I know that many people will be changed because of your heart. 

(Also pictured: amazing boyfriend, Mike and adorable dog, Annie)