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Growing Up with Santa Clarita
Catching Up with Inside SCV's First Kid Columnist
July, 2015 - Issue #129
After four years of writing nothing but research papers and the occasional Yelp review, I apologize if my writing skills are a little less polished than they use to be. When I first began writing for Inside SCV, I took my reviews very seriously. Yes, I wanted to be clever and entertaining, but I really thought that my opinion on what novel should be read next or restaurant should be visited after soccer practice was going to change lives! Now I would like to think my writing is a little bit wiser - and maybe a little bit more humorous. Who am I kidding, some things may have changed, but I accept that I will never be labeled as "the funny one." But hey, there are many things about 22-year-old Jolie that I never saw coming. I thought for sure I would still be the girl who ate nothing but bread and potatoes, who had no desire to travel the world, who thought sleeping in a bunk bed was a special treat and who was stubborn to the point of being ridiculous. Ok, that last part may still be somewhat true. I'm working on it.

"The 10th anniversary issue of Inside SCV could not have fallen at a more appropriate time for me - that crossroads between childhood and adulthood, where you REFLECT BACK UPON WHERE YOU'VE BEEN and peer tentatively into the future."
I am very proud of how far I have come over these past 10 years, especially these last four, but I would be lying if I didn't give huge amounts of credit to the community that I call home. Even though my roommates laugh at my "weird childhood," I know that us Santa Clarita kids had it right. Yes, we may have learned about California history by visiting the Oak of the Golden Dream, and traveled to our friends' houses through the vast network of paseos, and taken field trips to the Castaic Lake Water Agency before water conservation was cool, and trotted around the playground pretending to be horses - or was that one just me? I'll be the first to admit that we were sheltered in our little Santa Clarita bubble, but I feel so lucky to have called this place my home for the past 22 years. It is a place where seeing parents cheering on their sons and daughters at Saturday morning soccer games is the norm, not the exception.

Kids can walk to and from school without fear of the man offering us candy from the inside of his unmarked van, although we all were obliged to listen to the warning many times. We share a unique, nostalgic understanding of what it means to have grown up in the SCV. I firmly believe that every childhood experience has been an important step in shaping the person I have become and I wouldn't change a thing. Sure, there were countless times when I was convinced that teachers were out to get me (Who punishes a student for reading too much?!), or that my friends were abandoning me, or that my sister was the devil in disguise (Just kidding. Kind of.), or that life just plain wasn't fair.

But despite the ephemeral trials and tribulations of childhood and teen years, they made me stronger and taught me valuable life lessons. I learned that it's Ok to not always be perfect, and that sometimes you have to find a way to beat the system. I realized that putting your head down and working your butt off really will pay off in the end. I am confident that I can always stand up for the things I believe in, and yet do my best to be humble and open minded. Now that I am a UCLA graduate, looking to see what the future has in store, I feel as if I can fully appreciate the life I have been given. I have incredibly supportive parents, a sister who can make me laugh like no one else, friends who embrace every single one of my quirks, and a family whose generosity knows no limits. So if any of you guys are reading this - thank you.

The 10th anniversary issue of Inside SCV could not have fallen at a more appropriate time for me - that crossroads between childhood and adulthood, where you reflect back upon where you've been and peer tentatively into the future.

One thing is certain, Santa Clarita will always and forever be my safe haven.
Jolie majored in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution at UCLA and will be working at Nestle.
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