To a Freshman Me,
I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember you, and that’s why I’ll forgive you for never bothering to think about me, your future. If four years in the past is hard to imagine, four years into the future is even worse. I don’t know what you have to be worried about; you’ve gotten into the school you’ve been thinking about for the past nine months, to join friends old and new on your next big adventure: high school.
Kidding. (You’ll get a lot sappier as time goes on.) What is high school to you—or any part of life, really—but a pathway to college? You practice piano to win competitions to put on your awards list (you’ll never get anything above an honorable mention again). You play volleyball to get on JV to get on Varsity to become a captain to show your dedication (you’re really more of a supporting player). You write for the school newspaper (hello!) to become an editor to become an editor-in-chief to demonstrate your leadership (let’s not even talk about this one).
There’s nothing you love more than talking about your future. (Yes, this is why seniors hate freshmen. Yes, you kind of deserve it.) I wonder if it would hurt more for you to know all this now or to find out as the occasion arises. Would you believe me if I told you hurt is different from regret?
Here’s what I want you to know: you will fail. You will try your best and you will pour your heart into it and you will fail, and there are a hundred other things I wish you’d failed at, rather than not trying at all. You will often forget how lucky you are to have teachers that love their jobs and do them well, and friends who will endure your complaining for hours, and the money to pursue any summer opportunity and unpaid internship that you want. Take advantage of it; try and fail and try again until you don’t feel so lost anymore. Don’t be afraid of yourself; you are more than capable.
Sometimes it’ll all feel like a waste, like when you realize IB credit doesn’t really look that impressive to anyone (and costs way too much) and your high standardized test scores just make you look like a robot (admissions counselors’ words, not mine). You’ll realize too late that colleges already want you to know who you are at 17, and it’s okay if you’re still finding out. Anything that you’re passionate about is valuable—yes, even if it’s not a resume-builder (though you might be surprised; people can make careers out of anything these days).
It’s all a blur, really, of laughter and tears and bitter disappointment and a growing certainty that you are okay, that your own pace is the best pace. I know you’re trying, and that’s the only thing I care about.
Good luck. Please remember: this is not the end.