It’s been a year since I graduated from the University of Oregon and I thought I’d reflect back on my freshman year and write a letter to myself.
I’ve seen several “letters to my freshman-self” or “letters to my high school-self” and after reading them and reflecting myself, I think it’s a great thing to do. Looking back on big transition periods in life can show how much you’ve changed over the years and also see how far you’ve come and what you’ve had to overcome.
I think that Angelica puts it very well in “Why you need to Self-Reflect on your past & How to Start”.
“When you actually take a moment to comb through who you have been in the past, and what made you that person, it’s pretty enlightening.”
As I reflect now on my whole college experience I find it enlightening in a way and I see how I’ve changed over those few years. They say it’s a time of change that you shouldn’t waste and I agree one hundred percent. So here it is, a letter to myself, sent back in time to the fall of 2015.
First off, congratulations on your high school graduation and your acceptance into the University of Oregon. I know you doubted your worth during this time and you weren’t 100% sure that you’d make it a thousand miles away from home for four years. But I can tell you now that you did and it was an amazing experience that I hope you don’t take for granted.
Finishing high school as a valedictorian was great, but I know it came with lots of hard work and a lot of sacrifices. I want you to take college with less seriousness and enjoy more it more. Make sure to balance school with work and with a social life. This isn’t adulthood yet, it’s your learning trial period. You’re going to do great and I want you to take into consideration a few things.
Firstly, I know that living alone might seem a bit scary and over whelming but it’s going to be a great period of growth for you. Hang things up, get those extra throw pillows and make the space your own. Settle in and get cozy, your apartment is going to be your favorite place to be. And please turn your heater on more often. Yes, I know you’re trying to save money but wearing five layers of clothing is hard to maneuver in.
When you sign up for classes always give yourself some time in the middle of the day to go home and take a nap. Naps are super beneficial and you should definitely take more of them when you can. Also don’t forget to take classes that are interesting. Don’t worry about it not directly pertaining to your ultimate goal, a degree. Take it because every class is going to give you something in return. Have fun with it, you’re only going to be in college for a few years. See an advisor at least once a year. They know the class offerings and what will be best for you. They are there to help and you should definitely take advantage of their knowledge.
Make friends in your classes. Don’t be afraid to sit next to someone else who is sitting alone and say hi. Befriending others in class is beneficial and they’re probably looking for someone to get through the class with as well. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors and graduate students have office hours for a reason. Don’t struggle with something because you want to figure it out yourself. There are plenty of resources to help you and the majority of them are free. I’ll give you a little peak into the future: you meet some of your best friends in class.
Go out and get a campus job. I know you’re already looking and hoping to find something easy but go to the campus database and look at what’s available to students. A student job at the university is going to be much more flexible and understanding of your schedule. This is also a great place to find friends. Trust me, you make many many friends at work.
Check out clubs and organizations to join. FIND APO AND JOIN RIGHT NOW! I mean it! You made life long friends in that amazing group and you only got to spend a year with them. If you find them early, you get more time with them. Go do it, they’re always recruiting. And if you want to try more, try more! You can always decide later that a certain group might not be your cup of tea.
Listen to everyone’s advice. Even if it sounds like complete BS, listen. Sometimes getting a new perspective is worth it and again, it’ll help you grow as an adult. I have found that learning to listen is a great skill to have in a world where everyone likes to talk, but not everyone is heard. Be the person listening and take everything you can. Teachers, fellow peers, supervisors and the like have been through something that you will probably go through, so please listen and take it all in.
And finally and most importantly, have fun. When people say that college is some of the best years of your life they mean it. It’s a time to let past you go and start new. It will give you a chance to really find yourself and you’re going to be in an environment where everyone is going through the same thing so there is a support system set in place and it’s easily accessible.
With your new found freedom, growth and knowledge let go and live in the moment. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You’ll find many things that scare you but they will ultimately teach you something. I suggest you try that weird yet interesting class, that you say yes to hanging out with that new group of friends and that you experience every moment with gratitude.
College was amazing and even though it’s over I’m still learning every day from my experiences. Don’t take things for granted, listen well and have fun.