If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. There’s a reason people still say this all the time. It’s because it’s true. College is close and graduation is closer. I know you’re equal parts excited and terrified.
You feel obligated to hide the terrified half because so many of your peers cannot wait to get out of the house. This isn’t the last time you’ll feel this way, but you’ll remind yourself of how scary college seemed, as it does now, and that all turned out okay.
College isn’t going to be easy, and I’m not just talking about classwork. In fact, the first year will almost break you…almost. Your high school friend you made big plans with will move in with someone else. Your dad will have a stroke. Your roommates will treat you differently because you drive the 250 miles home almost every weekend to see him in the hospital, and hide in your locked room when you’re there.
New jobs will be scary at first. Along the way, there will be some you find you love and some you never want to do again. You’ll become an asset to your team once you find your niche. You’ll learn to be a leader and that as long as it doesn’t stop you from doing something, fear is okay.
New roommates will become lifelong friends, and don’t worry, you won’t be going to med school. I know you know even now that’s not what you want for yourself, even if you’re not ready to admit it to anyone else.
Mistakes will be made, but you’ll learn from them. Your hard work won’t go unnoticed. Never work hard for recognition, though. It will leave you feeling empty. Work hard because you owe it to yourself to take everything you can get from your time at ISU. You might just end your four years with two majors, a minor and a high honors distinction.
Always stick up for yourself, and for others when you see they need it. People will make disrespectful comments about your work, your friends and your body. No amount of power, or tenure, makes that okay.
You’ll come out of college still you, but very different from how you entered it, almost all of it for the better. Sure, you’ll gain a little weight but you’ll also gain a lot of experience, friendships and unforgettable moments. You’ll still have a lot of growing to do when college graduation rolls around, but you will have built a strong foundation for yourself by the time you are finished.
Relationships in every aspect of your life will be tested, but the people who matter will stick by you. Stick with them too, it’s a two-way street.
Don’t sign up for 8:00 a.m. classes. Do sign up for physical activity classes. They’re good for your body and your soul. You’ll learn to love the gym and that, sadly, going to the gym no longer means you can get away with eating anything you want. Think fondly about the day you ate half an apple pie for dinner after track practice, reassuring your family you didn’t have an eating disorder, you were just skinny from running all the time.
High school was not a bad time. You’ve almost survived it, and before you know it you’ll be saying the same thing about college. You’ll feel equal parts excited and terrified about the next big unknown. If I had to guess, I’d say you’ll be just fine then too. While you, my eighteen year-old self, obviously can’t benefit from this now, past me is present someone. This letter is for them too.