Dear Freshman Me,
I don’t want to scare you too much, but sh-t’s going to hit the fan. You’re going to experience your first heartbreak, get stuck in a hospital, lose a lot of friends, fail your classes, “medically withdraw” (just admit you dropped out), get kicked out (twice), live on your friend’s couch for a month, move in with your granny and start your short life all over again. It gets scary. However, since I’m writing this, you obviously survived.
I know you hate this after hearing it for years, but it does get better.
Every time someone told you “it gets better,” you sneered. It seemed like a nothing phrase people say when they can’t think of the correct answer. You thought it excused people to look away from all the pain that you’ve endured— “a platitude that weakly licks your wound,” you once wrote in a very edgy journal entry. However, if you think about it, it’s probably the best thing people can say to you right now. Think about it: what can someone say to you when you’re unhappy, but neither of you can fix it in a productive manner?
“It gets better,” is the only thing people can say to help you when you can’t change your current situation. Right now, you hate everything for good reasons. Your situation sucks, and you don’t deserve all that crap happening to you. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do when you just turned 18 and mastered zero life skills outside of washing the dishes. Because of your current situation, you need to look forward to the future in order to make it through your present. When people tell you that “it gets better,” it’s not just a platitude; it’s a promise you must make to yourself.
You need to tell yourself it gets better, so you keep holding on to hope.
Yes, you got some hope left in you. Even though you like to act like everything’s all doom and gloom, I know you’re still hopeful for something to change. You look ahead to try to catch a glimpse of brighter days. A little bit of light still resides in you, so stop trying to push it down. Making yourself miserable doesn’t make anything any easier. While your disappointment is valid, don’t allow it to consume you. Instead of internalizing that disappointment and stewing in your self-loathing, use that disappointment to fuel your desire to change.
Yes, you can change. Just because you’re not your ideal self now, doesn’t mean that you can’t become that person later in life. I know that you carry a laundry list of things that you desperately want to change about yourself. You want to feel more confident, not stress over every minor decision you make, study something that you actually like, get straight As, get a job, learn how to drive, find people who love you unconditionally and get away from everyone who hurt you. Unlike the beginning of this letter, I got some good news. You get all of that then some. You literally go from failing your classes at the University of Arizona to getting on the Dean’s List at UCLA (oh yeah, you transfer to UCLA by the way).
See! It does get better!
It takes you a very long time to get to this point. Little by little, you undid the damage you suffered and started becoming your true self. How you see yourself now, a scared child, is not you. That’s just a mold you forced yourself into in order to survive. You’ll change. Trust me. You’re a lot more competent than you think; you’re resourceful, studious, driven, insightful, responsible and intelligent. You have all those qualities in you; you just need the right environment and the right mindset.
Even though the next few years will feel like a test from God that you didn’t study for, you’ll come out the other side clean. You’ll grow into that cool, smart girl that you always dreamed of being (maybe not cool but cooler at least). You’ll handle things a lot better, and the pain that you feel now will dissipate into a memory. Freshman me, you’ll make it through this. I’ll root for you all the way from the future and always remind you that it does, indeed, get better.