Dear freshman self,
First of all, congratulations! You made it, you made it to the US. Even better, you made your dream come true—you live in New York. Take a minute to celebrate, enjoy! As I gained insight into the future, trust me, it became one of the best decisions. I know you worry about switching majors, but you will experiment with a couple of programs and end up happy, so keep making those brave decisions.
One thing that I learned over the past couple of years—we both possess good instincts when it comes to decision-making, so keep following them.
However, we need to talk about social expectations, and how much pressure you will feel to do what others and society expects. Let’s face it, even if you don’t want to admit it yet, the two phrases that describe you (outside of a long list of amazing qualities) consist of “people pleaser” and “overachiever.” As always, you will sign up for everything that your university offers, and sometimes you won’t be keen ongoing.
At the end of the day, sometimes you will go anyway, but you will do it just out of fear of missing out or because friends decided they were going, and they asked. Here comes a secret though: you can let go. It’s okay. Don’t be afraid of resigning or letting go if you feel overwhelmed! Just because an opportunity is there, doesn’t mean you always have to take it. Instead, think about what makes you happy. Sometimes that will also mean resigning from professional development opportunities. I know these can feel harder to resign from than some party, but sometimes you should put yourself also in front of your resume.
This leads us right into professional development.
During some of your internships, you won’t connect with people you work with, and they won’t end up as your biggest fans. People cannot be liked by everyone. Don’t try to change to fit their narrative. After all, sometimes being different allows you to bring other perspectives to the table. If that one volunteer opportunity doesn’t appreciate your perspective, then your next internship will. Connecting that thought to my previous message to you, let go of places that don’t appreciate your perspective. Hired staff, intern, volunteer—no matter the job position, you deserve to be in a place that acknowledges the work that you put in; if they don’t, leave. It’s not always worth sticking around.
Another aspect of social life you will feel pressure in?
Getting into a relationship. Of course, everyone wants to fall in love, but life doesn’t always turn out that way. Don’t settle for the first guy who charms his way into your heart. Behind the great first impressions, sometimes comes the half-truths and games. Give yourself a chance to get to know all aspects of a person before you get attached, and definitely don’t give a second chance at this point in your life. Some people find love in their life in college—good for them!—but for a lot of people, it is time to get comfortable dating. Leave second chances for true commitment.
Most of the movies and tv shows set this image of finding a huge group of friends with whom you do everything.
And it works like that for some people, but let’s face it: you always preferred a little more diversity. So, don’t worry. You will find great friends in all of your programs, but not the ones you thought you would connect with during the first week or two.
Here, we arrived at I think the key message: sometimes, people you think you will connect with, you don’t, and you shouldn’t change yourself to fit in. Instead, people you thought you couldn’t connect with will turn out to become your greatest support. Friendship is also a two-way street! It’s okay to let go if you feel like you won’t get anything back from a person.
As much as I loved writing this, it’s time to wrap up with the advice.
Wait—one more thing, I almost forgot. To answer your biggest questions, yes, we made it. I recently walked down the street of New York and it hit me: I am exactly where you envisioned yourself to be. I am living your aspirations. I found work, internships, my major, career path and I live in a nice apartment in downtown Manhattan, genuinely happy writing this article while sitting in Central Park. All the waiting? Worth it! Relax, you will be okay, and it only gets better! So, buckle up and enjoy the ride to where we always wanted to be.