Notes From My College Self

This weekend, my classmates will celebrate our ten-year college reunion.  Unfortunately, I’ve moved across the country and can’t make it back there to join everyone.  But I started thinking recently about how I’ve changed—and how I’ve stayed the same—since I was a starry-eyed co-ed wandering around a small Norman Rockwell-esque liberal arts college.  I lent someone a book that I read as an undergrad, filled with my undergraduate highlights and chicken scratches, and thought about what those marks say about me now.  If that was my college self talking, what are the messages I was sending to my (arguably) adult persona?   

We’ve all thought about what we’d tell our younger selves if we could go back.  But if I could sit down over a cup of Cool Beans coffee with that girl, what would she tell me?  What advice would she impart?  What expectations would she have of her future self?  How would she hope to grow and change, and how would she hope to stay the same?


Choose your impulse purchases wisely. 

Mozzarella sticks are delicious.  But if you order them to your apartment at 3:00am, someone else will probably intercept the delivery guy on his way to your door.  And you’ll find yourself waiting up, losing your buzz, wondering where the hell those late-night appetizers could possibly be.  And if they do finally arrive, you’ll probably regret scarfing down all of that processed cheese right before going to bed anyway.  In other words, they may taste good, but they’ll cost you.   


Your friendships are just as important as your romantic relationships. 

This won’t change.  Some people say that it will.  They argue that eventually you and your friends will settle down with reliable men (or women), have kids, buy a house in the ‘burbs.  Your immediate family will eclipse your friends—even those amazing women that you live(d) with, who build you up, sometimes tear you down, call you on your bullshit and love you just the same.  But “some people” are wrong.  Because no one person can meet all of our emotional needs.  Ever.  You need your friends so that when the tough times come around, you have an army.  Trust me, you’ll be happy you have the troops. 


Be brave. 

Like, stupid brave.  And confident.  And uninhibited.  Being bold has worked for me.  I don’t think so much about what people are going to say, or how they’re going to see me.  I raise my hand before I’m sure that I know the “right” answer.  I take the classes that interest me and spend time with the people who inspire me.  I just assume that people are inherently good, and that they’ll believe I am, too.  And if they don’t, so what?  This is who I am:  Opinionated, confident, direct.   This is how I’ll make friends when I move to a new city, keep connections with professors, get jobs and sell myself in a grown-up professional world.  Be audacious.  Own it.


Give yourself a break sometime. 

You don’t have to be perfect.    Could I be better at field hockey?  Maybe.  But it’s so much more fun to let myself off the hook sometimes.  I enjoy practice, but I don’t let it make (or ruin) my day.  I could probably write some better papers, and be more responsible when it comes to my obligations.  But I don’t lay awake at night worrying over it.  I let some things go.  And that works for me.  And at the end of the day, I’m pretty darn happy with my life.  (Plus, I think it’s that much sweeter when I score the winning goal against Brown, or UVM, or whoever…)     


Do everything. 

I’m tired.  I’m an officer in aBiGaLe, co-chairing Poetry Circle, playing field hockey, and I made it into that acapella group and just picked up another minor.  Time is tight.  This is exhausting.  But it’s so worth it.  All of these experiences make me a better person, with interesting and supportive friends and experiences that feed my soul.  Sometimes you’ll feel full, but it’s the good kind of full, like a totally satisfying meal that covers all of the food groups.


And lastly,

Know yourself.  And then re-discover yourself when you change. 

One of the best things about college is that I’m still trying new things and learning about myself.  I think I have a pretty good sense of who I am, but I also know that I may be different tomorrow.  I don’t mean that I’m changeable or inconsistent, I just mean that I might know even more about myself next week or next month.  I may discover something that I’m good (or bad) at, or something that I enjoy way more than I realized.  I may meet a new friend who brings out a different quality in me, and that may be a good quality or a bad one.  But it’s part of who I am.  It’s complicated.  And I’m okay with that.

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