Category Archives: September 2015: advice to my freshman self

To The Freshman I Used To Be…

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)

Wake Me Up When This Freshman Confessional Ends

(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.  Continue reading Wake Me Up When This Freshman Confessional Ends

Dear first year Gabriel,

This is your future self writing to the current you. First things first, stop whatever you are doing and sell all of your Jordan, Lebron, and Kobe basketball sneakers. They will not maintain their fashion relevance through college and at best you will wear them once a week. If you are still dubious of this immediate call to action, just trust that your feet will thank you physically and your pockets will thank you fiscally. On a lighter note, congratulations on embarking on the finest years of your life. Spoiler Alert, it’s going to be legen…..wait for it…..dary! I would give you the answers on how to avoid making certain mistakes but you and I both agree that messing up is half of the learning process. Instead I’ll offer you some general advice, so that maybe you can achieve your “A-Ha moments” more quickly. Continue reading Dear first year Gabriel,