Stephanie Rita Photography
As I begin to navigate the next chapter of my life, there are a flood of emotions. They are familiar and bring me to a similar time in my life. A time when everything was changing and I wasn't sure if I was prepared.
I was 18, entering my freshman year of college and I was nervous. As I look back at that young, naive girl, I want to hug her. I want to tell her that the next four years will be amazing, difficult, crazy, fun and totally worth it. I want to tell her that she will make it out alive and that every positive or negative experience will change her for the better. So today I am going to write to her. And to you.
Dear 18-year-old me,
You made it this far and that means something. The past 18 years of your life have seemed hard, but in reality they were a piece of cake compared to what's coming. I'm not saying this to scare you. I'm saying it to excite you! All those lessons you've learned from your parents, coaches and teachers, well - they are about to be put to good use.
Now, let's start with the good stuff. This college - well it's perfect for you. It will be the place where you get your fake ID taken away, it will be where you fall in love for the first time, and it will be where you find some of the best friends you'll ever make. It will give you a new found freedom and a damn good time.
It will cause a whole lot of tears (mostly from laughing) and even more hangovers.
On another note, this new life, it's not one to take lightly. It's easy for me to sit here and tell you to get your homework done before 6 p.m. and not to kiss the boy on the baseball team, but that would be stupid. You need to live and learn.
So here's some advice:
It's okay to be scared. You're going to feel a whole range of emotions - happy, sad, content, petrified. You'll be completely out of your comfort zone. Recognize that you're one among many.
Everything in moderation. I mean everything. Sure you've gotten drunk before. But, you're in a new school, with new friends and no rules. Don't be the freshman that everyone is talking about the first weekend.
Oh - and that goes for food, too. Barbecue chicken pizza sounds amazing at 2 a.m., but every night for a week? No. Don't do it.
In college there's a preconceived notion that life is one big party. That's not the case. This is where you'll figure out what you want to do with your life. So pay attention!
I won't lie to you: you're going to spend more money on beer, at O'Brien's, than on textbooks or food. You're going to skip your 11 a.m. class because you went to bed at 5. And you're going to (poorly) sing No Scrubs, with your new besties, while the crowd boo's you off the karaoke stage.
It's not to say college is one big joy ride either. You'll fail a class, go through your first break up, suffer a bad knee injury and lose a best friend. None of these things will be easy, but they'll make you strong.
You're going to get some crazy opportunities. You'll find yourself on top of the Eiffel Tower and on a lacrosse field in San Antonio, Texas. You'll run weddings in a mansion and write your first article for publication.
You'll write a thesis and pass a math course. You'll attempt to learn Italian. You'll apply and get into graduate school. You will get caught in a downpour, on the way to class, before a big presentation. You'll want to cry. Don't. Smile, because there's nothing you can do about it.
Oh - I almost forgot. You'll die your hair dark brown. Your friends will tell you they love it, your parents will tell you they hate it. In the long run, guess who's right?
Despite all of this, a year from now, you'll look back and you'll see how much you've changed. You won't be naive or sad, you'll be begging your parents to let you stay.
It's funny how life flows in circles. Six years later and I feel like a freshman all over again. Ready to take on the world with a fresh perspective and the knowledge that I will learn the ropes sooner or later.
All you can do is take it one day at a time.
So buckle up, it's about to be one hell of a ride.