September 28, 2015
Dear Freshman Elaina,
Look at you, all grown up and ready to take on college life! I’m so happy and proud you’ve come this far, and I’m excited for all that you’ll discover in the coming years. But before you get ahead of yourself, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I, the author of this letter, am you, now a junior at JMU, writing back in time to give you the advice and guidance you’ll so desperately need during freshman year. It won’t be able to change your path, but it may make freshman year a little easier on you.
First off, honey you’re an adult now – learn to dress like one. Go out and find some nice business casual clothes that look both cute and professional. I know you don’t like to splurge, but this is the one occasion you won’t regret having done so. Make an effort to look at least halfway decent for your classes, too.
Learn to let go babe. Make peace with the fact that sometimes friendships pass like the seasons. People will be in your life for a reason, but don’t count on them always staying there; where one friendship slowly withers another will blossom in its place. And this ties into …
Learn to recognize your own self-worth. If people don’t make time for you, then don’t make time for them. I understand that this bit of advice will feel especially impossible, but trust me, you will love yourself more for understanding you are worth people making time for.
Don’t shy away so much from meeting new people. Own your awkwardness. Wear it like a badge, girl. Just because you feel anxious as a spooked hedgehog in a room full of new people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to meet others. Your inadvertent networking will pay off in time.
Call your parents, and especially your little sister. I know you’ve never been good at staying in touch with anyone, but your sister really needs you. Freshman year of high school for her will be just as hard as freshman year of college for you.
Take time to write and don’t be a perfectionist. You love jotting down random ideas that come into your head until you have oceans of sticky notes, but you never do anything with them. Write that story you’ve been visualizing, but are too afraid won’t be good enough. While you’re not good at reading people, that doesn’t mean you can’t write a convincing and entrancing story.
Just know that I made the journey too, and now I’m happier than I’ve ever been with some great friends, roommates, and coworkers by my side. You have a hard year ahead of you, but you will grow exponentially as a result of your freshman year experiences. Embrace the tears as equally as you do the laughs, and be strong. Have fun and just be yourself, and the rest will follow.
Love you girl,
Elaina (your future self)