Dear freshman Archana,
It’s me, junior Archana.
I bet you’re probably wondering what I can say about these past two years. Did we achieve our dreams? Are we succeeding in all of our endeavors? Did we get that classic college experience?
In short, no. Freshman Archana, you have no idea what’s coming your away.
I know you started out college thinking this was gonna be your year. You hoped to make some cool, new friends, join a stellar collegiate dance team, become a savvy film major, and God knows what else. It almost feels foolish to know that’s how we thought way back then. It’s only been two years, but so much has happened. If we stood face to face, I don’t know if you would even recognize me.
Your college experience started out anything but typical. For one thing, you didn’t even finish your freshmen year on campus. You started out with a glorious image in your mind of college life, some of which was shockingly accurate, while other parts terribly misleading. But then, the first two weeks of school shattered your shining image of the university experience in seconds. You tasted heartbreak without a single boy involved after your unsuccessful dance team audition. You thought your old high school friends were slipping away while you struggled to make new ones. You found out UMass didn’t even offer a film major, then you felt yourself spiraling at the thought of not knowing what to do with your life.
You got sent home before you could find closure, suddenly navigating the unknown waters of a global pandemic alone.
For an entire year, you brooded over being robbed of one of the most important experiences of your life. You asked yourself over and over again, “Where am I going? What am I doing?”
You struggled, and you will continue to struggle. You doubted yourself. You still do sometimes. Some things will never change. The hopelessness, the fear, the frantic sense of losing yourself to events that rock you to the core of your being. There will be many times where you’ll feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper under the weight of your own self-doubt and fear. You can’t avoid any of that.
Yet still, you will rise.
You will rise from the confusion. You will claw your way out of the disbelief, befuddlement, and frustration that encompassed an entire year of your college life. Like a diamond forming under immense pressure, you’ll shine anew when you finally begin to find yourself again. Your fears will never disappear forever, but you will learn to crush them beneath your feet and walk on towards your goals. Even though most of your struggles were silent, raging within the depths of your own mind, when you make the final climb to the peak of the mountain, you will revel in how far you’ve come.
Never let anyone tell you that your struggles aren’t valid, because you fought hard to overcome your battles and that’s the sort of strength that stays with you for your entire life.
When you come back to college at the start of your junior year, you’re going to feel a little lost. Coming back to school after a year and a half of living at home? You might feel a little frazzled, afraid, and nervous. See? Just like the start of your freshmen year. Yet, that’s where things are different. You won’t be the same person anymore. You’ll have grown. You’ll have experienced hardships that no other generation has experienced. You’ll be a brand-new person; incomparable to your freshmen self.
Be proud. Be brave. Most of all, be prepared. You will go through a lot in these next couple of years, but it certainly won’t be the last of your challenges. Even then, I’m not worried. You’ll get through it, because you’ve already done it before. I know you’ll do it again in the future. So, take pride in how far you’ve come. These next few years will be strange, but in the end, you will come out a much stronger person.