This is Part 1 in a series of letters from college graduates to their freshman alter egos. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self about your college years?
By BookRenter Corporate Communications Associate, Rachel Freeman
Rachel recently earned her Master’s degree at San Francisco State in Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts. In addition to working at Rafter, she coaches high school volleyball. A kid at heart, she loves watermelon gum and water guns. In her spare time, you can find her traveling the globe (her favorite place is Israel!) and cheering on her hometown San Francisco Giants.
Dear freshman Rachel,
I’ll give you fair warning. By the time you are done with this adventure of higher education, you’ll have been in school for 19 of your 23 years. That’s a long time: exactly 82.6% of your life. And when you get to the finish line, your graduate school graduation, it will feel like the end of an era. School can be tough at times, but it’s a fun journey and you should take in everything: every friendship, every class, every event, every party. So as you embark on this awkward, fun, funny, stressful, amazing time in your life that I wish I could do again, here are some things I want to tell you:
- Break out of the box you have created for yourself! When you were young, you pictured your life at 18 in a certain way. And that box is very restricting and claustrophobic. So step out of that box. Get out and party. Do things you may never have thought of doing – introduce yourself to random people with whom you cross paths, join off-the-wall active clubs (think, the Rock Climbing Club, or the Swing Dance Club), and take off-campus adventures with your new friends (think corn mazes, hay rides and haunted houses). You won’t regret leaving your box behind.
- Find people who make you a better person. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and what you are doing in your life. You will encounter people who may have selfish reasons for hanging out with you. You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone, but make sure that you get something out of the relationship. If not, don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. It’s okay to be a little selfish; after all, you’re the only one looking out for you.
- Live a little! I know you don’t believe in drinking before you turn 21, but it’s not so bad. When people invite you to parties, GO! I know you think right now that it will be uncomfortable, but trust me, IT WON’T BE; everyone is just there to have a good time. And if you decide you want to start drinking before 21, it’s really not as bad as you think. Go with your gut. But never do anything because someone else tells you to. I just want you to know it’s okay if your views change over time.
- Not everyone makes it through college with amazing roommates. And you are no exception. But instead of being upset about not having a college roommate that you’ll still be friends with in 30 years, think of these living situations as learning experiences. It’s teaching you about cohabitating, patience and not always getting what you want all the time. And those will be great skills to have when you finally do enter the real world (especially the “not always getting what you want” part).
- Lastly, work hard to maintain friendships with those you truly care about. Even with Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and FourSquare and every other social network out there telling you what your friends are doing at all times, it won’t be enough to maintain those special friendships. Once you graduate from undergrad, pick up the phone and call your friends, send them “thinking of you” texts, snail mail them birthday cards. You may think your friendships will dissipate after college, but as long as you work on keeping in touch, they will actually strengthen.
So freshman self, I will leave you with 2 quotes. One comes from a future best friend. She once said: “Life is short, so fuck everything. These are the years. You can make mistakes. If you’re gonna make mistakes, do it now before 25 at least. After 30, you’re DONE! DUNZO! Out for the count.” Not sure if the part about turning 30 is true because I haven’t hit that milestone yet, but it’s still a good one.
And finally, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” If you live your life that way, I can guarantee you, you’ll be fearless.
Rachel Freeman, M.A.