Dear Kae: A Letter to My Freshman Year Self

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I’ve tried writing a “10 tips for your Freshman year of College” type article three times now. Each time I felt like I was regurgitating what I read the year prior. “Make sure to bring these to the dorms!” “Do this!” “Do that!”. I felt like I was summarizing everything I found on the internet.

Now don’t get me wrong, this letter is probably just another way of listing my “10 tips” for the freshmen out there. But this way, I get to do it in a more personal matter. This is because every year, right after I finish a school year, I tend to write myself a letter. As a form of encouragement, or reflection, I don’t really know, but it always felt like some type of catharsis. I realized that I haven’t done that for this year, so well.

And without further ado, here is the letter to myself:

Dear Kae, 

This is kind of weird. Typing the letter out rather than writing it on lined paper. Publishing it on a blog (how cliché, how many other young girls are using blogs as a type of diary these days anyway? No offense to those girls). 

Anyway, the first year of college has come and go, and it’s actually been a while since the year ended. Around two months? Or over two months? 

Remember the first time you went in to your dorm room? It was weird. It didn’t feel like it was your dorm room. I was just going along with everything. Like yes, okay we’ll unpack, we’ll put this here, and we’ll put this there.

You were just messing around with your family. It felt normal, like another long drive and we were just staying for the night. You felt a little sly, having moved in before your roommates because you disregarded the move in dates.

And then, later on in the afternoon, while everyone ate their lunch, it kind of hit you a little. 

You weren’t going back home with them. This isn’t a long drive. They’re going to leave you in that very same dorm they helped you move into. And your eyes widened a little at the realization, but didn’t really think much of it. 

It was too hot, and you were just happy you were finally in a place with ac and fried chicken. 

And then, they dropped you off in front of your dorm. You chanted a mantra over and over in your head “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.”.

There’s a running joke in my family, that my little brother has never seen me cry. Well it’s not really a joke, it’s just he assumes I’ve never cried which is funny to my family. 

So you stood in front of your dorm room, ready to be separated from the people who have supported you from the very beginning. From your first breath until the steps up to your college campus. It didn’t feel awful, I remember you being okay. You were more surprised that my mom didn’t cry at all. 

Well I thought you were okay, until I realized you could only whisper goodbye’s, nod and smile, and you realized you couldn’t blink or else there were some stupid water droplets that might fall. 

It sucked. 

Instead of going up straight to your dorm room, you ran to the bathroom and shed a couple of tears here and there. You freshened up a bit, put on a strong face, and finally faced your roommates. 

And you thought to yourself as you greeted my new roommies with a warm smile, “hey it won’t be that bad.” 

You were a little wrong kae, but that’s okay. 

The first thing I would say to myself if I could is this: don’t feel intimidated by your RA. Or your other floormates. Or anyone in your class!

Yes, it seems like your RA doesn’t really smile at you, and it seems like she thinks you’re an immature person she’d never get along with, but you’re wrong. She’s really cool. If you don’t talk to her in the beginning you’ll really regret it at the end of the year. 

Your other floormates are really cool too. You know that one girl who seemed kind of snobby? She’s awesome. She does things that are amazing.

And that one girl who seemed like you had nothing in common with? She loves romcoms too. What? I know that’s really weird.

And that one group you went to target with and thought you’d never see again? Nah, those two girls were also pretty chill. They’re so silly and easygoing it’s ridiculous.

I would say this too: don’t judge people right away. You told yourself this all year and you never really listened. I told you over and over. You thought to yourself, “this person would never be friends with me.”

Wrong.

There were so many people and stories and adventures you could have encountered if you didn’t hold yourself back. So please, don’t hold yourself back. Be as weird or as crazy or as moody as you want to be. Sure you get shut down sometimes, sometimes you just don’t click with others.

But don’t let the reaction of one person hinder you from ever meeting others who might like you for being you. Okay? There are too many wonderful people on this planet for you to not meet. 

And don’t be scared of your own potential. Don’t be scared of being pushed to the limits. I know it seems kind of scary, but how will you grow? Don’t back out of something because it seems to hard. You know you can do it. Why do you think you were so bored first quarter? Cause you took it too easy! Don’t do that!

Academics may seem incredibly threatening, but I know you can do it. How do you think you even managed to get into a college in the first place?

Be a little more understanding. There are people around you who you won’t understand why they act that way, or why they think that way. And it’ll be frustrating, and you’re going to want to just leave them. Or ignore them. Don’t do that. Have a little more patience. I know it seems like you’ve been patient for so long, but it’s the nice thing to do. 

In college you meet people of different types, and while you might not agree with them, at least try to be patient and try to understand them. 

Also, speak up! There’s a limit to being understanding. Sometimes, you just have to speak up! Communicating with the people around you is key! How will anyone get along if no one dares to speak their mind? You can do it, once again yes it’s scary at times, but you have to speak your mind. Don’t let other people trample over you. If there’s something bothering you, say something! You will not believe how many situations could have died down if you just said something. 

You’ll feel out of place at times. You will. You’ll feel odd and gross like a mush that you can’t explain. You can’t label the feelings you feel sometimes and that’s life. Sometimes college is just going to plain suck. But you can’t let this get to you. You’ll get over this feeling and you’ll feel fine again. But don’t feed this feeling! Don’t feed this lazy mushy feeling. I know at times it can’t be helped, but I promise you’ll get over it. 

You’ll feel jealous many times. Why can’t you have as many friends? Or why can’t you be as confident as her? Or as stylish or as pretty or as outspoken and energetic? Why can’t you have the ultimate “college experience”? Why can’t you get invited to parties? 

I know this ones going to be tough. Push those nasty thoughts out of your head. They don’t come up as often as they did in high school because your confidence is higher now, but trust me they’ll pop up. They’ll show up as nasty little whispers rather than the loud shouts they were in high school, but don’t explore these thoughts. By the end of the year you’ll know it’s just because you are you, and other people are other people. Basically, you have certain characteristics that shape you and your own experience so you can’t compare yourself to others.  

Let me say this one thing though, you’ve done a great job with this problem overall. You really have. 

But the one thing that you need to work on is a subset of this. You’re going to criticize yourself for not doing enough. I think this is something everyone on the planet goes through. You’re going to feel useless. You’re going to feel as if you’re not doing enough while you’re in college. You want to do this and that, but rather than actually doing something you just waste your time wondering why can’t you do those things. Why can’t you do an internship? Or take 7 classes and have a job? You’re never going to feel satisfied. This will last the whole year. So I challenge you to change this mindset. I challenge you to take baby steps toward action. You can do it okay? You even got your first job during your first year. Who would have thought. (Sure it lasted like 3 months but whatever). 

You also do a great job of loving yourself. You have. I want to thank you for that. You’re also going to appreciate your parents a lot. I know you already do, but you really will. You’ll feel your parent’s love so much more. And their hard work. Never forget their hard work. When you stay up late at night studying, remember why you’re studying and how you even got into a college in the first place. It’s for them. 

You’re going to have a great year. Some of your friends, not so much, so be there to support them. It might be tough, but the independence is something you’ve needed. Have a great time. Sleep, eat, and take care of yourself. 

And last but not least:

That boy you keep giving glances at? He’s got a girlfriend. That’s one thing you should give up on. 

 

Love, 

Kae

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