Dear Freshman Nelson,
I regret to inform you that your preconception of college going by slowly like high school is a sorely misguided notion. As a super-senior typing this during his last 10 weeks here, I can guarantee you that these years will fly by so quickly you will wonder what happened in the past five and a half years (yes, you read that right, five and a half). And really, it’s not that you wasted your time here, it’s quite the opposite. You’ve done so much here and filled your days with so much school, work and extracurriculars that the years will go by in the blink of an eye.
Freshman Nelson, please don’t ever lose your sense of curiosity while you are here. Please don’t become complacent with your life and settle for the same old, same old. There is so much for you to do here, and so many opportunities to satiate your thirst for knowledge and experience. In your limited amount of time here, I would encourage you to constantly be open to new experiences: whether it be in the form of a random class on the history of witchcraft, taking on a summer internship in LA, asking that girl out (and later fully realizing you might not be all that into girls), taking on leadership positions in clubs, pledging for a fraternity or writing for the newspaper. The world is not an oyster, it is rather made up of many delicious hors d’oeuvres.
College is not meant to be a particularly comfortable experience and that’s the beauty of it. You never grow without conquering your fears and opening yourself up to new experiences. The doubt you constantly face will eventually fade away as you gain confidence in your intuition and yourself. You’ll eventually start figuring out what you’re truly passionate about and find others who either share your passions or support you as you develop those passions. I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to surround yourself with people that are supportive of you. Finding community inside and outside of school will be the foundation upon which you will build yourself. You’ll have to make the difficult decision of cutting toxic people out of your life on a regular basis. As bad as you may feel sometimes, you have to realize that for a tree to successfully bear fruit, it must be constantly pruned.
Which leads me to my last bit of advice to you. While I encourage you to try out as many things as you can, there will come a time when you will need to evaluate what is worth committing to and what is worth letting go of. Whether it’s a major, friendships or extracurriculars, never hold onto things that don’t make you happy. It’s not your responsibility to hold yourself back to please others. You have no one else’s expectations to live up to besides your own.
Now off you go, enjoy the next couple of years. I will be waiting for you on the other side of this letter.