To My Freshman Self


As I quickly approach the end of my time high school, I cannot help but reflect on what I have learned and how I have changed. I like to think that I step off of campus braver and wiser than the girl who reluctantly opened the door on her first day of freshman year. I also like to believe that every mistake I made and every victory I gained was part of some greater scheme. That the lessons learned–often by force–will sit as trophies on my shelf and reminders of the effort put in to obtain them. Here, I allow you a look at my personal collection of trophies.

Dear self,

Hold on tight. The next four years will stretch you and test you.

Yes, you will be quizzed in literal ways. Your classes will teach you how to run on only a few hours of sleep, and how to spin turmoil into triumph. If you are lucky, in the midst of taking in all of this new information, you will be able to sift through the ashes of your failure to find a tiny ember. Blow on it until the dust clears and you have a full-fledged fire in your own chest. Chase your convictions over a cliff. If you aren’t careful, you will turn out normal.

Along with this, standardized tests will likely take over your free time, and attempt to take over your identity too. You will be tempted to believe the liar that screams “that tiny number determines your whole future” or “you cannot do anything if you cannot take this test up to standard”. Do not fall for such a trap.

You won’t be good at everything. Hell, you won’t be good at most things. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to be. You are only responsible for a passionate pursuit toward the betterment of people and for creating a society better than the one you were born into. You have been endowed for a specific purpose, as cheesy as that might sound.

You should remember that not all relationships are meant to last forever. It is important to note that not all people are made for holding you together when you’re falling apart or keeping you from unzipping your skin. You cannot expect every person in your life to love you no matter what or to just get it. Some people are here for ridiculous banter, shallow exchanges and nothing more. That is alright too. You need people for all seasons. Figure out who to call in a crisis and who to go shopping with.

Along with this, it is most noticeable in high school (I believe) that people grow up at different rates. You will outgrow people or some might grow in different directions. That is alright too. Flowers don’t offend one another because they sprout at different times, everyone is looking for their own ray of sunshine to nurture them.

Allow every person you encounter, each with their own unique vantage point, to be a lesson. I learned the hard way that it is not my job to fix every person I meet (or any person for that matter). It is much more valuable to love people well and to have friendships and to be happy than it is to stop everyone from “making mistakes”. Don’t let your pride cost you so many friendships.

I can guarantee that you will fall apart from time to time. Things will go to hell. Everything you think is constant will fall apart and everyone you think “has” to love you is subject to walking away. On many occasions, you will be convinced that you could never come out the other side the same, which is true. And that is the point.

You might go through a lost phase. You know, the one where you made all of the mistakes, lived for yourself and never looked back. Even in the thick of your most shameful chapter, your flaws don’t define you. There is always time for a comeback.

Cut your parents and teachers some slack. They’re still growing up and figuring out life too. Even if it seems like they don’t know what they’re talking about, listen anyway. Despite how it looks, they probably do have your best interest. Being molded hurts a lot of the time, but it is worth it.

Most importantly, though, say “yes”. Go full out for every single school dance no matter how lame it sounds. Find a way to cheer on your friends in all of their games. Take a risk and let the fear of a missed opportunity drive you. Never ever turn down an invitation because you’re too tired. Believe it or not, a day will come when all you want to do is eat at Cane’s after a football game with all your friends. Pick having a good time over doing homework or over playing it safe. Let loose.

When I asked my peers what advice they would give to their freshman year selves, they responded with wisdom such as:

“Don’t rush to grow up because it sucks. Enjoy being a high school kid with your friends and family.”

“Dump (insert boy’s name here) already! You’re wasting your time.”

“Be yourself. Just chill out.”

“Those seniors that you’re so scared of don’t have any idea what they’re doing either.”

I must say, I agree with them. Speaking of friends, grab hold of yours. Squeeze them as often as possible, support them, learn from them and love them well. One day, you will all drive away in different directions.

Use your high school years to figure out who you are and what you believe in. You will miss everything you once thought you were too cool for. You’re only young for so long, so cherish it.