A Letter to My College Freshman Self
You just watched your parents drive away from your dorm. You are currently at a loss for what to do next, and I understand the feeling. I remember it all too well. You’re nervous about this transition, but don’t worry. You’ll do great (I know it). You’ll get your degree; you’ll “find yourself”. You’ll have a lot of fun in the process. This being said, there are some things you need to learn. The older version of you likes lists just as much as you do, so here is a list of the things I wish you had known. It would have made our life a lot easier and saved us some heartbreak.
- You’re grades don’t define you. You are not going to get straight A’s. That’s okay. It’s a good thing actually. You are also going to obsess over your grades way too much. You don’t need 100% on everything. Make sure that your grades don’t take over all aspects of your life.
- You procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed. Stop it. You can do everything you are given school-wise, so get to it. You will be a lot less stressed and feel less guilty if you just get your work done. Set a schedule and stick with it. Find people to keep you accountable in this.
- You are going to join a church filled with fantastic people. Like all people, they have their faults. You’re going to feel judged. You’re going to feel trapped in a culture of legalism. You’re going to wonder why God ever brought you to this group of people. Later, you will learn what a huge impact you had on some of those people. God is going to use you through this situation. He’s also going to strengthen your faith. Just remember, nobody can take your relationship with God away from you.
- You’re going to make some amazing friends in the next few years. Some of them are going to leave and never come back. Some of them will force you to walk away, because of the way they treat you. That’s okay. It’s not your fault. Love them. Forgive them. Don’t hang onto bitterness. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.
- You have a 20 year plan. You are going to make a LOT more of these in the next few years. Let go of this. Allow God to guide your steps. Be okay with not knowing about the next 20 years or even tomorrow.
- You aren’t Superwoman. You need sleep. You are also not a night owl. You cannot run on minimal sleep while stressing and overcommitting. Less is more. Recognize what your priorities are and don’t feel guilty about saying no to things that don’t fit in with your passions.
- God loves you. He will never stop loving you. Even when you feel like nobody understands or appreciates you for yourself, God loves you. Write that on your heart, mind and soul. Carry it with you everywhere you go. (Also, other people DO appreciate you; sometimes you’re just too wrapped up in your pity party to listen to them).
- You are an introvert. You need time to yourself. You cannot be social 24/7. It leaves you grumpy and withdrawn. Not all “good” Christians are constantly socializing. Jesus took time to pray alone. Do the same.
- You are also an extrovert. People are going to hurt you. You are going to follow God’s will and feel that nobody wants to support you in that. You are going to respond by withdrawing and sleeping a lot. First of all, that’s a huge exaggeration. You have some amazing people who are going to support you through it all. Secondly, you need a community. You can’t fly solo.
- Texting is NOT a legitimate means of communication. People (including you!) say things through text that they would never say in person. You also read texts for what you want them to mean. This meaning is not always the original intention of the speaker. Put the phone down. Talk to the people around you. If absolutely necessary, Skype.
- Pick your roommates with care. A home is more than a bed to sleep on. Know what your boundaries are and express those at the beginning. Otherwise, you are going to end up at home every weekend (although your parents are happy to see you).
- Don’t do things just because those around you are doing them. You don’t enjoy parties that simply involve Doritos, gossip, and chick flicks. You are a nerd. You like museums and science talks. You are not a fan of movies and fast food. Stick up for yourself. If you can’t find anyone to go with you to these sorts of things, go by yourself.
- Watch your health. Eat vegetables. For goodness sake, don’t waste your money on crappy food, just because your friends do. Otherwise, you are going to royally burn out and get really sick (again). Find people who will support your healthy habits instead of calling you weird/crazy.
- You aren’t going to listen to my advice (or anyone else’s for that matter). So, when you do burn out and get shingles and become really miserable, make yourself leave the house. Yes, you need to sleep and rest. You also need to not just quit going to church and talking to people because you’re tired. If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t going to really remember this time period after it happens. It is going to become a fuzzy distasteful blur.
- Relax. You’re growing up. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay. God has multiple angels protecting you (you are rather absentminded at times). Enjoy this time. Pretty soon, you’re going to be sitting in another city wondering at how much things have changed (in a good way).
I hope you take this for what it is. Well-meant advice from the “you” that’s barely on the other side. I’m sure that in 4 years’ time I’ll have a whole new list for you. That’s how it goes.
Peace and blessings,