Dear Freshman: Sincerely, Me

#5

5/2/2018

Dear Freshman,

This series didn't really go the way I expected. I had a lot of big, vague ideas with not a lot of direction. I 'planned' for several letters, meaning I made a list of one-word topics and assumed I'd remember what I meant months later. Let's just say that's not the most effective approach to blogging.

But here we are. I've shared my senior year experiences and how they compare to the dreams and realities I had as a freshman. I told you about the types of friends I made in college, and how friendship doesn't fit into templates or rules. I listed the most important pieces to my (admittedly still developing) time management skills. And I narrated a few of the many, many pieces of identity that are often explored and discovered in college.

I'm writing this on a sunny Monday with three weeks (or 19 days, technically) until my graduation. I'm sitting on cool, thick, tall-enough-to-tickle grass by the far side of our on-campus man-made lake. The water is the same murky blue as usual, mirroring today's almost-summer cloudless blue sky. I can hear a loud bird call out from my left every minute or so, with a single fainter response following from the other side of the lake. Every few minutes I stop typing to blow a spider off my computer or brush an ant off my leg. I'm shielding my laptop screen from the sun with my upright torso, arranged just right. The sun is hot on the back of my worn out navy t-shirt, but it feels nice contrasting with the cold wind blowing over my bare arms. April 30, 2018. This is the kind of spring day that motivates Hoosiers to put up with hail in March and snow in April, just to see one such perfect afternoon.

I have a lot of emotions about graduation. I'm upset I'll lose my military status, like health insurance or base access. I'm a little disappointed I haven't found a job yet. I am so very ready to leave a school that has so often made me feel like I'm not wanted, not safe, don't belong. But I know, intellectually at least, that though I don't feel it now, I will eventually come to miss this beautiful campus and the ways it shaped my life. I do plan to visit again, one day; I imagine a much nicer experience when I no longer have my status as a student riding on how I present my sexuality or life experiences.

Dear freshman, it's okay to be confused. It's okay to not know what you want to do with life — who or if you want to date, what the best major is for you, what kind of job you'll be happy in. It's okay to absolutely love your school, and it's okay to hate it, too. Every school has some of both, with a lot more students who fall in between. It's normal to have mixed emotions about any big change in life, and starting college can be one of the biggest. Give yourself space to learn and grow and think. Spend time focusing on the big and important stuff like tests and majors, but make time to set those things aside and just be human, too. Whether you graduate where you started, change majors three times, transfer to another school, or drop out and do something else entirely —  your life will not look like anyone else's, and that's a good thing. Enjoy where you are, right here, right now, and take adulthood one step at a time.

I'll be rooting for you.

Sincerely,
Emily

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