After the end of my sophomore year of college, I wrote a blog post in the form of a letter to all new college freshmen describing what I’d learned in my first two years of college. Here’s what I’ve got from the last two, for all the rising college juniors out there:
- If you only paint the toes that stick out of the sandals, no one will ever know!
- The only person beating yourself up for pressing snooze instead of working out is you. Sleep is a form of self-care, too.
- If you think you might need to see a therapist, see a therapist. It feels better when it has a name.
- It’s okay to cry after you get home from the party. Just remember that everything feels worse at 2 a.m. Get some sleep.
- Ask them out, but for the love of God, don’t do it over Facebook. If you’re not ready to do it in person, you’re probably not ready, period.
- You are allowed to take as much time as you need to heal. Do not rush your healing. If you do, you could find yourself in the middle of a house party you never wanted to go to, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, wondering why the hell you decided to put a dress on in the first place.
- Embrace the mistakes you’ve made. Learn from them. Part of growing up is being able to look your mistakes squarely in the eyes.
- Dance. Or sway. Bob your head. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to look good doing it. You don’t even really have to dance at all. But in the moments I felt the most beautiful, I was dancing.
- Sometimes painful thoughts will come back. So if your mind is a living room, let the painful thoughts sit on the couch. Don’t let them change the channel on the TV or let them say mean stuff to you; just let them sit. They’ll get bored and leave eventually. One day, those thoughts won’t come back. And it’s your job to close the door on their way out.
- If you feel good in it, wear it.
- If someone tells you’ve they’ve suffered at the hands of another because of who they are, who they love, where they come from, or what they look like, pay attention. There is injustice in this world, even if you’re just learning about it now. Pay attention. Do all you can, but most of all, be a good listener. Pay. Attention.
- If the teacher doesn’t like your writing, they don’t like your writing. You’re not going to convince them otherwise. But that doesn’t mean you should stop writing.
- Push yourself. Stay out later. Work harder. Sometimes the best stories come from recognizing how much you can toe the line–without crossing it.
- Always take criticism with a grain of salt. Step back, and reevaluate. Sometimes they’re right, and you should change what you’re doing. Sometimes they’re wrong.
- Tell the people you love that you love them.
- You don’t need anyone to fix you. You do, however, need to take the time to examine your cracks. And if you need fixing, in a beautiful, difficult way, you’re the one responsible for it.
- “Sometimes you have to say no to your friends and yes to the work.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Try to drink it without a chaser. This goes for life, too.
- WEAR SUNSCREEN.
- Walk away from people who make you feel less than. You don’t need an excuse.
- You don’t have to like them back. Your heart is not a consolation prize.
- But give the unexpected a chance. You might end up working at a Disaster and Community Crisis Center for a year and a half, loving every single second of it. You might become the “weird girl who always knows what FEMA is up to.” And that’s cool. That can be your calling card. And you won’t mind a bit.
- You are more than a stereotype. People are complicated and have many facets; know it for yourself, and know it for others.
- Passionate people are the best teachers. Seek them out. Explore something they love (in my case: swing dancing, 19th century European Art History, watercolors, Italian, baking).
- Be thankful for the journey.
In these last two years, you will work harder than you’ve ever worked. You will stay up to see the sunrise and take long midday naps and hope that the damage you’re doing to your sleep cycle fades with time. But there are bars to visit full of the gorgeous faces of people you love, and beers to share, and stories to swap. There is ambitious, creative work to be accomplished, work that makes your heart beat faster and your palms sweat. There are hearts to break and hearts to mend. There are stories to be told. There are tears and hysterical laughter on the streets of a small city in Missouri you never expected to miss.
But I’m going to.
Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed. (Misty Copeland)