It's been roughly a month since I started my senior year of college.
I've been looking back on my college experience and doing the "self-reflecting" thing a lot. It's weird, being one of the older students on campus. I see the (many) freshmen on my floor. I notice the questions they ask me, how they listen to my stories, nod with alert eyes. They expect me to know the campus, to have an inside scoop on life here. It's an odd sort of respect, the kind you give to someone who is technically your peer but you view in a different position. I feel very strange to be on this end of it. How did I get here, and so fast?
I keep thinking of myself freshman year. I think of how I looked at my RA. I don't remember if she was a sophomore or a junior, but she seemed years older and far more mature than I — much readier for adult life. I distinctly recall her nose ring, and how she stopped to talk to what felt like the entire student body at the dining hall that first night. I was in awe.
I remember how I watched the upperclassmen in my dorm. They all knew each other, had inside jokes and deep connections. There was a bond, and it was only the first day of school. I envied them. I envied their closeness.
I look at my life this year and think of my freshman self again. I'm involved in so much this year: I'm on the newspaper staff, I'm on the dance committee, I'm president of a student club. And I'm popular. Whether it's for LGBTQ questions or to invite me to a dorm event or requests to borrow my card game, so many people know me and want to talk to me. I've never really been popular like this before. I'm living my freshman dream.
The last few weeks, I keep finding myself thinking of that younger me and wondering how she would respond if I could talk to her. How would a conversation between my old self and current self go? And how will I turn out three years in the future? What would a conversation with that person now be like? It's the kind of thinking that can get you stuck in your own mind.
I always thought those letters schools send from seniors to freshmen were cheesy and staged. They seemed so inspirational, so lofty, so dramatic. Pretentious. They always made the school look like heaven on earth, too. There's no way any institution can be that amazing.
But I have a lot of thoughts for my old self right now. I did read a lot of blogs for advice as an incoming freshman; they didn't feel as censored or filtered as those pre-printed letters. So this week, I thought, why not give it a go? I can write my own letters, record what I'd tell my younger self in order to process those thoughts. I can stick them up on my blog in case it helps anyone else. At least they won't be as filtered as institution-approved mailings.
So, dear freshman, my name is Emily Russell. I'm a public relations major and a senior. I live in a dorm whose name won't mean anything to you yet, and I'm writing to share what I've learned in my years at this school.