How many of us, when we were little girls, pictured graduating college, then getting married by 21/22 and having your first child by 23/25? I definitely know that is what I always pictured for myself throughout my childhood, it’s what my parents did and it seemed to work. But then you get to that point in your life and it couldn’t be farther from reality.

Why as a society do we feel the need to tell young girls they must marry young and immediately start families? Why don’t we advocate more for them to find something they are passionate about and pursue that? Why is there so much pressure for girls to only feel they are worthy if they are in a relationship and have a man to support them? Why are there certain things that are “only achievable” once you’re married? Or my favorite – because you have all this “success” don’t you think guys will be intimidated?

For so long I struggled with feeling like I was lacking. I graduated from college without a boyfriend – far from having a ring on my finger, moved back to my parents, and started a great internship that turned in to a fantastic job. I got my own apartment, without help from anyone, went on numerous trips, lived with roommates for a year and now own my own house. I have done all of this without a man by my side, so does that make me unworthy, unsuccessful? But in the back of my mind, I do have that fear that because I have already accomplished so much, it will scare someone away – but if it does, it wasn’t meant to be (but that is a whole other story for another day).

Here I am, one week after turning 24, and I have never felt more empowered and sure of who I am and what I want. I BOUGHT A HOUSE BY MYSELF AT TWENTY FOUR! This is by far my biggest accomplishment and I did it alone. Why don’t we praise women for doing this more? I was having a conversation (via text) with a friend from college who also recently bought a house. There are so many unknowns that come with buying a house, it’s a huge responsibility. There were times we both considered backing out, because facing something new is hard – especially when it is this big of a risk. And then you have the added pressure of people making comments about being a single woman buying a house.

I’m a huge fan of former Bachelorette contestant Olivia Caridi (and an even bigger fan of her podcast). She recently bought her first house in Nashville, by herself. In one of her recent Instagram Stories, she talked about all the hateful messages she received from people for not being married or dating anyone and owning her own home. This is something we should be praising women for! This is a huge accomplishment for someone and it shouldn’t be downgraded for a little thing such as that. If a man bought a house without being in a relationship, I doubt he would receive the same criticism. So Olivia, from one single homeowner to another, congratulations!

So tonight, because I have been so wrapped up in so many other things – work, making this house my home, life – I’m taking time to just soak in the fact that this place is all mine, no one can take that from me or make me feel bad for “skipping some steps,” and thank God for all the things that have gotten me here – like two parents who have always encouraged us to be independent and go after what we want.