Dear 18-Year-Old Me: You’ll Miss This

Be scared. There is good reason to be scared, and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not scary moving out of your hometown, out of your parents’ house and away from your sisters and hometown friends because, quite frankly, it’s terrifying. It’s okay to be scared, just find distractions that make you happy. College will change your life.

As much as you’re itching at flesh to get out of your childhood bedroom neighboring your parents’ master, take a minute to embrace the annoyances that you’ll soon miss. Enjoy borrowing your sister’s clothing, going through closets when she is not home, the cat at the end of your bed that takes up too much of your foot space. Be thankful your mom’s alarm wakes you from a room over at five in the morning, because soon you’ll be sleeping up until class with no time to review for that exam. Be grateful the porch light is left on after midnight when you miss your curfew. These everyday acts are the things that will go missing, and you won’t notice it until you’re stuffed in a dorm with no privacy, miles and miles away from your favorite place. Remembering these things is what will bring you home again.

But once you’re there, don’t be scared anymore. You’re going to meet your best friends your first week, and although it may seem like you’re just having fun with them in the moment, they will save your life throughout your college career. You will cry with them, and they will tell you what you don’t want to hear, but it’s crucial to listen to them. They will make you laugh.

Don’t choose a book or homework over spending the extra half hour after dinner to converse, because these are the moments you will remember and miss the most. Your friends will guide you through the dim-lit streets after everyone else has turned in, and, to your surprise, they will be sleeping next to you when you wake. Let them sleep past you. They will become your family, and soon you will be bringing them home with you for holiday breaks.

Don’t listen to what everyone says about needing to go to college in order to find a well-paying job. Although, they are right when they say you need to go to college. You will find yourself. You will stuff your nose into literature you won’t want to read, but it will educate you on lessons you never thought were important. You’ll later use these lessons to win arguments (and it will feel so damn good). Your professors will become your lifelines, they will lead you down bright paths, and you will search for their names on the roster when registration rolls around again. They will become your University parents. . . let them. You will need them.

Step up. Go to that meeting, get involved in the community, join the student newspaper even if your friends don’t want to. These people want similar things as you, don’t be surprised when they want to be your friend; you are a likable person, even if you don’t think you’re desirable. You are desirable.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. People in college are more understandable than your small-town, judgmental high school classmates. You’re not going to get picked on. Wear what you want to wear, say what you want to say because this is your stage now. There is no need to be afraid anymore.

Don’t for a second wish to be an upperclassman. I know you want seniority, you want your own apartment, you want better parking spots, and your stomach can’t handle the dining hall anymore. But I’m telling you: Stomach it. Time only moves forward, never back.


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