Dear freshman self,
You made it. As cliche as that may sound, I know that wasn’t something you could have easily imagined, especially after your first semester. You are graduating today and are about to begin a new, exciting chapter of your life. These past four years have flown by faster than you could have imagined, and it has definitely been a learning experience. I’m going to do my best to share what I wish I had known when I was in your place.
First of all, there’s no reason to spend so much time in the Brody Learning Commons or Milton S. Eisenhower Library. You probably thought that you were being productive by hiding behind your books in the Quiet Reading Room or C-Level for hours on end, but I can tell you now, that really does not help you. In reality you spent most of your time being unproductive when that time could’ve been used to continue carrying out the activities that you loved doing. Without a sense of balance and instead a hyper focus on studying, you ended up having your most mentally exhausting and worst academic semester. Luckily you did learn from this, and it was overall an upward journey from there.
Speaking of failure, please realize that it’s a natural part of learning and isn’t a reflection of who you are. It’s probably hard to get yourself out of that mindset, but setbacks will happen more frequently than you would like them to, so it’s okay to feel upset and even have a good cry if you need to. However, don’t spend all your time wallowing and instead try your best to look ahead at what you could’ve done better and use those lessons for next time. It seemed like the end of the world after you failed back-to-back midterms in your introductory classes, and you almost made a huge mistake of dropping the major you’ve been passionate about pursuing for years after not doing well in another one of the introductory courses. However by taking it one step at a time and learning new study techniques, you’ll be graduating this spring with general and departmental honors.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help and rely on others during times of need. You’ve always liked being a little more independent, because you thought you were inconveniencing others with your problems. You wasted more energy than needed trying to resolve everything on your own. It's okay to reach out to others, as there are people who want to help. Since opening up a bit more, you’ve found yourself a strong network of family, friends and mentors who have guided you both through good and bad times. I would not be where I am now without them. Their unconditional support, love and advice made the impossible possible.
There’s a lot more I could write about, but I’ll leave you with this one last lesson, which I briefly mentioned before: make time for yourself. Whether that’s getting back into playing tennis, practicing music, exploring/traveling to new places with your friends or finally joining gym classes after two years of inactivity during the pandemic, allocating time when you are not working is much needed. Since you are prone to stressing too much, resting and relaxing will keep you sane. That doesn’t mean you need to always be doing something — even taking a two-hour nap when you are feeling overwhelmed will keep you refreshed.
College is wrapping up and so is this letter. I hope you cherish all the small and big moments. Make sure to remember the delicious Late Night mozzarella sticks from the Fresh Food Cafe at 11 p.m. Make sure to remember everyone cheering and marching out of Brody when the University announced students were being sent home at the beginning of the pandemic. Make sure to remember Ubering across three states during your junior year summer to make it to a wedding, because your bus never showed up. Make sure to remember the smiles and tears to come after you walk across the graduation stage. I still have a lot to learn in the future, but you should be proud of your growth from the last four years here.