It’s been a while.
I hope you’re doing well. You’ve just stepped foot on campus and you’ve moved a portion of your life into a small (you’re making yourself feel better about it by calling it cozy) residence room. I know you’re nervous, and that all you wanted to do was get out of your town and start anew somewhere away from home, but I’m telling you: don’t be nervous. These next few years are going to be the best ones so far.
I know you’re worried you won’t be able to make friends, that people won’t like you, that you won’t be able to really get the university experience you always wanted. You kind of want to lay low and be seen as the “cool” guy, the one who everyone wants to talk to. Get that thought out of your head. Stay true to yourself. You’re going to meet so many amazing people who will love who you are — your flaws, your dorky smiles, your bad jokes. A bunch of these people are going to be ones you just click with – like you’ve known them all your life (even though you didn’t have many friends growing up). Let go of most of the people who you’ve clung onto from high school, even though they didn’t treat you very well, because you were scared of losing them. It’s ok to be scared of that. But know that sometimes it’s not you that is doing the losing; sometimes, it’s them who lost you and didn’t care enough to find what they lost. And it’s ok to be lost. The great thing is, you’re going to be surrounded by people who will always help you find yourself, not do it for you. Those are the ones to keep in your life and expend effort for.
You know how you said you wanted to lay low and just get through university? You’re going to change your mind the second you see someone performing an acoustic set during Orientation. You’re going to realize that there’s a huge community right before you that will be your new home. And near the end of frosh week, you’re going to perform the first song you ever learned on guitar in front of 60 people in the quad. You might mess up a little bit, but this is going to inspire you to get involved. And getting involved will help you figure out yourself, even understand the things you didn’t know about yourself, and grow. You’re going to grow so much and develop into someone that you love.
And oh man, speaking of love… that thing you said to yourself after your parents’ divorce? The one where you swore off it in university and would just date casually? You’re going to meet someone pretty amazing — someone who doesn’t fit any of the unrealistic conditions you set out. And you’re going to fall in love with them, then out of love with them. You’re going to experience heartbreak for the first time in your life. You will be okay. And then you will grow.
You’ll learn that being in good health means so many more things than simply physical; you’ll experience the tolls of poor mental and emotional health. But you’ll also learn that reaching out for help is not giving up your pride, or that maybe your pride wasn’t worth your well-being in the first place. You’ll learn that you are not just a number — your health is worth more than a good grade, your status is not determined by your productivity, and that you are worth a million times more than a degree. You might not respond to your professors or boss on time (but thank god you have such a cool boss!) but you’ll learn that people understand you’re human, too, and that they’ll try to help you out.
You’re going to do great things, and go so far. I want you to believe in yourself. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.
P.S.: You’re going to get the cool tattoo that your parents were always against, too, but eventually after a few weeks of being hyper aware of it, you’ll forget it’s there most of the time. It’s pretty rad though.
2 comments on “In Which I Write a Letter to First Year Me”
Thank you. So very much. I don’t think you know how much of my anxiety for September your letter just soothed.
I’m happy my letter was able to calm some of your anxieties. I found it really helpful to reflect on the past year towards the end of the term; things I learned, things I did, how I’ve grown. I’m assuming you’re coming to U of T this September? I hope you have a fantastic experience and you’re going to have the best years of your life at university.
All the best,