For one of my classes this semester, we were asked to write a personal statement. No other prompt was provided, other than to write about something, such as a particular cause, an event or a conflict, in your life that you felt exemplified a distinctive part of your identity. This is my story.

It’s true, I was Twitter famous for 3 years. I had almost 20,000 followers and would rack up hundreds of retweets and likes for almost all of my tweets. How did this happen, you ask? Three words. Justin Drew Bieber (who was born on March 1, 1994 at 12:56 A.M. on a Tuesday in Ontario, Canada, weighing 7 pounds and 11 ounces). I was utterly dedicated (not obsessed) with him and by creating a fan account, I yearned to get him to notice me out of his 20 million other fans. I would tweet him, his tour members, his best friends, his guitarist and even his manager hundreds of times a day. I even payed $100 every year for the official “Bieber Fever Online Club,” forced my parents to drive me to Target at 12AM to buy his newly released albums, wore Justin Bieber t-shirts to school which I would get taunted for, and even taught myself guitar because I wanted to emulate his beautiful acoustic performances.

After two years of running this account and failing to get Justin to recognize me, I was close to calling it quits and handing over my Twitter’s ownership to two other girls. I remember feeling incredibly dejected and frustrated with my seemingly futile attempts; all I wanted was a “like” or a follow from Justin, and increasingly as time went by, the impossibility of the situation seemed more palpable.

However, one Sunday morning, as I was getting ready to go to church, I remember tweeting Justin from my iTouch, telling him how much I loved his music and how he inspired me to “never say never,” a phrase stemming from one of his most popular songs. I put my phone down and finished getting ready. Five minutes later, as I checked my notifications, I saw that I had gained about 50 followers. In my confusion, I checked the list of new followers, and as I continued to scroll down, I saw it: “@justinbieber has followed you.” Immediately after, I received another notification alerting me that I had a new direct message. It read: “Hey! I followed u. Happy new year : )”. I was flabbergasted and speechless, as I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes. Six months later, after winning a fan art competition, I also got to meet him through a VIP Meet & Greet experience.

You may be reading this and unconsciously (or consciously) thinking I am quite possibly the craziest and creepiest fan ever. However, in retrospect, this experience has tremendously built my character and skillset; despite how cliché it may sound, it has shaped me into who I am today. What I see from this slightly insane, but worthwhile 3-year experience is my ability to solve problems creatively, endure despite the odds not being in my favor, actively seek out challenges, dedicate myself entirely to a cause I am both curious and passionate about, and most importantly, fearlessly be myself. Today, nearly 8 years later, I have realized that although my love for Justin has diminished, my strengths and my attitude have not. Whether I am mentoring middle school students, serving on the Board of the entrepreneurship organization at my school or working on a group project with my peers, I am still someone who thrives when working on a difficult task, someone who functions best with others through collaboration, and works towards goals, meticulously and persistently, despite how ridiculous or impossible those goals may seem. So, sure, my Justin Bieber experience may seem embarrassing, ridiculous and abnormal, but honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world.