Illustration by Ana Simonovic
Last week, during a nerve-induced bout of insomnia, I found myself aimlessly clicking through the array of albums still stored on my computer from freshman year. It’s amazing that although three years is ultimately only a minuscule fraction of your life, so much can change.
Besides the obvious physical altercations (such as a brief bout with black hair that I still shudder to reflect on), I personally feel that these three years have forced me to grow up more than all previous 18 years combined.
Though I can’t change the decisions and experiences that saw me through my freshman, sophomore and junior years, I sometimes still wish that I could have a sit down with my 18-year-old-Anacapa self and give some advice, provide that, knowing myself, I probably wouldn’t take…But still, there’s no harm in trying.
First of all, Freshman Me, don’t be freaked out when you realize that you are in the wrong major and may have no idea what you want to do with the rest of your life just yet. Or better yet, listen to yourself (and your GPA) and get out of the chemistry series while you still can. Take your GE’s first; be open to new ideas and experiences. I know you have no idea what Sociology is, but in a few years you’re going to be double majoring in it. So trade in your lab goggles for about twenty more textbooks. You can’t even get your blood drawn without violently hyperventilating; did you really, truly think you’d make it through medical school?
Second of all, though it may seem like “college” is another word for “giant co-ed slumber party with no rules,” you’re not being graded on your ability to stay out until 3 a.m. and making it home without forgetting your e-key. Your freshman grades don’t just disappear into the ether as soon as you sign your Isla Vista lease. Go to class. It’s not going to demolish your social life if you stay in a weekend or two.
Freshman Me, back away from the hair dye. That dark blackish/red will look decent for a little while, but it will take over a year (and a grand) trying to force it back to your natural dark blonde. Don’t bother piercing your nose either. You’re going to take it out and re-pierce it three times before you realize that someone with a nose such as yours shouldn’t be drawing any more attention to it. And that tattoo you wanted but couldn’t afford to get? You’re going to be happy you saved yourself the time, money, and grief from your parents.
Finally, Freshman Me, remember that you’re exactly where you want to be. You’re at your first choice school, in California, as far a cry away from small-town New Jersey as humanly possible, which was, ultimately, the goal. Don’t waste time second-guessing yourself and trying to be whom or what anyone else thinks you should be. Do what you love and don’t bother with anything you know in your heart will make you unhappy. This includes not only school and extracurricular activities, but also friendships. Some people will turn out to be completely different than you originally thought, good and bad. Take it in stride, and don’t let any one event define you.
Funny thing is, I know Freshman Me would listen politely. She’d nod, and smile, and say something along the lines of, “Absolutely, you’re so right.” She’d give me a hug and tell me that she appreciated me talking to her. She’d respect my seniority… And then she’d journey into Isla Vista in search of a beer pong game and a box of hair dye. Do your thing, Freshman Me.