(These reflective assignments are supposed to be good for you, right? Right. Okay. I’ll ignore the uprooted hair and pulled teeth and claim this all had value.)
Dear Freshman Scott,
You’re a mess, and that’s okay. Really. Take a minute and breathe and just think it over. You’re already overthinking this, but we’ll work through it together. Yeah, you might’ve cried on the phone homesick during 1787. You might be currently wasting your time on people who drain your life energy and you don’t know the most painless way to break up an accidental friendship. Spoiler alert: there isn’t one. You don’t even know how to clean a bathroom. Life skills that living in the woods never did bestow you pile up when your world grows exponentially.
Opportunities will open up for you that you’d never thought possible, and you’ve got to be prepared to slam open the door. It’s hard to fathom that you’ll be anything more than this asocial recluse you’ve self-labeled yourself. There will be change.
But, you’ve still got a long ways to go to get ready for it, and I’ve got a few solid pieces of advice for you. If just to make those first few months easier.
Don’t go to church . . .
Despite how many times you’ll promise the Ashby substance-free crowd, you will never quite make it to any Sunday services. Organized religion might just not be for you, despite how you grew up in the early years.
. . . but don’t neglect your spirituality.
You’re going to discover this little thing called poetry. It’s probably one of most the exhilarating activities you’ll get to do throughout college. It’s going to be your church. You may not want to get out of bed for a lot of college, but the poetry will bring you to life whenever you’re present for it. Seek it out. Seek other student poets out. Learn from them. Write from and with them.
(Also it’s totally okay that poetry will never be a lucrative art form. Making a lot of money in life should never be your top priority and that’s also, really okay, I promise.)
You hate people . . .
Yeah. That doesn’t change. The general populace just doesn’t do it for you, and as observant as you’re supposed to be in order to be a good writer, you filter it through a general disdain. You write people off too early, but it’s a learned habit. ‘fun’ fact: getting pantsed in high school didn’t help that situation.
. . . but learn how to live with them.
Constantly avoiding interaction with those you dislike is pretty much impossible, especially when it comes to people you’ll live with in an apartment. Finding common ground will take you a long way, even if your personalities inherently clash. Roommates are hard. Remember, ‘tabula rasa’ means that people are blank slates until you get to know them.
Don’t overthink it, Mr. Anxiety.
This is probably the big one. You have enough anxiety for, like, five people rolled into one. You overthink literally everything you do, and it tends to snowball into an avalanche from the littlest spark.
Being anxious isn’t a bad thing, it generally leads to you fleshing out a situation in full before making a decision, but you’re going to learn that oh my gosh just stop thinking about it and do it already. Whatever it is.
Last, but in no way least:
You’re worth it.
Whatever it is, yeah, you’re worth it. You’re worth living through to the next chapter. You’re worth the self-care and making your own bed in the morning. Don’t forget that, ever. Teach that to other people in your life who need it. Everything you will be, for other people, begins with you. Start there.
Be honest with yourself and everyone else, and look past your own anxiety and inner nonsense.
Read often. Write all the time. You might be okay at it, so get better.