An Open Letter to My Freshman Year Self

Photo by Steph Distasio

Dear 18-Year Old Self,

You’re probably terrified right now.

You’re probably so scared and nervous that simply reading this is giving you anxiety. Your mind is probably 8,000 years away, planning your next day’s work or how you’re going to keep your friendships going with the new girls you just met the night before (spoiler— you’ll still be living with them three years later.)

I know that you’re terrified to be alone in this new, beautiful place. Your knuckles are probably raw and your nails are probably close to falling off. However, as your older, wiser and more collected self, I urge you put your spinning life on pause.

Remember this feeling and remember this place. It’s about to change the course of your life.

First, give yourself a high five, because it was your hyperactive work ethic, nerves and obsessive need to be the best that got you to into Penn State, one of the best schools in the country, in the first place. And now that you’re here, it’s what is going to set you in motion. Sure, you’ll always be a hyperactive and nervous person, but one with the ambition and passion to keep you grounded, and one with a newfound confidence to see yourself through.

Your fear and longing to find your passion is what will lead you to meeting one of your best friends, who will take you to audition for the newspaper. Don’t freak out – I know you’ve never written anything to be published before. Fast forward three years and you’ll be doing it for a living.

That’s right. Your 21-year-old self is preparing for a job in public relations. I’m pretty sure right now you don’t even know what public relations is, and that’s okay.

You’ll stutter and shake your way through your first week writing for the newspaper. Then you’ll get good. Then really good. Then it will be your whole life. I would say don’t let it consume you, but that’s impossible.

Let yourself get so stressed out that you want to rip your hair out. Complain about deadlines. Please, try to go to class, even though you think you don’t need it to get a job (spoiler again— that mindset won’t change, I’m sorry in advance).

Most importantly, try to just chill out.  Mom always said take a deep breath, and honestly, it’s not bad advice. The horrible mistakes you’ll make this year are what really lead you towards finding the major that suits you. They will even help regulate those fears and worries and someday, you’ll be able to control them a little. You’ll still stutter, but not nearly as much, and your insecurities will vanish bit by bit in time. It sounds insane, but the mistakes you’ll make will even help you grow insanely closer to those girls you met two days ago. They’ll be your family, and you’ll even further grow your family as the years play out.

Every step of this journey you’re about to take is absolutely precious. The time here is precious, your soon-to-be family is precious, and as stated earlier, so is your fear.

This anxiety and fear is who you are and how you’ll make it out into the world someday. So appreciate it. Just remember to take a deep breath when it gets to be too much, and lean on those two nice girls. You’re more alike and will be more loved in this place than you can ever imagine. Hang on and enjoy the ride, one knuckle-biting minute at a time.

Oh, by the way, Glee really goes downhill. Seriously, you should stop watching even though you won’t. 


Your 21-Year-Old Self