A letter to Previous Me and my Reader Signed, Graduating Me

Dear Reader,

I know you’ve been there. We’ve all been there. You’re remembering a younger version of yourself and you... just... facepalm. I get it. I wish I didn’t, but I do. And that’s why I’m writing to you now: to give you a few words of wisdom I have learned as I approach graduation.

There have been many instances in my life where I wish, as an adult or even just an older version of myself, that I could go back and give younger me advice and reassurance. Of course there are other times when I wish I could go back and yell and kick and scream while shaking younger me, but mostly, I just wish I could give her advice.

Unfortunately, we both know that going back in time to talk to our past selves is not an option. So instead, I’m talking to you, Reader. I’m hoping that even if it’s only the smallest take away, my experiences can help you through this time the way I wish they could help the girl I used to be.

The biggest piece of advice I will ever give, and can never stress enough, is that juggling is a balancing act. I hope that after reading that statement, you pictured an oversized circus tent with a performer juggling big, colorful balls while walking on a bright yellow tightrope. Regrettably, that is not exactly the kind of circus I’m talking about.

Instead, I’m talking about juggling being a student, having a social life, sleeping, eating, showering, going to work, maintaining good grades, paying bills, going grocery shopping... the list I was not ready for when coming into college. I had always been very responsible so I never imaged how different college life could be. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss my old routine and my surroundings... until I got the flu a month into my freshman year. Oh gosh, Reader, that was the most homesick I have ever felt to date. I missed my mom, and my bed, and my mom checking on me in my bed... I missed it all. And when that homesick feeling finally passed, it came back again just one month later. And then again after that. And again after that, too.

Remember when I said juggling is a balancing act and you pictured a cute, happy circus with a performer doing cute, happy tricks? I thought I was that performer. I was still being responsible, still getting good grades, making friends... But it was not as glorious as I previously pictured it to be. Imagine that same circus, except now the tent is on fire. And the circus lion got loose and is chasing the performer. Who is also on fire. And the balls being juggled are all crashing down and exploding on the ground. And the performer has absolutely no idea. That’s the kind of performer I was. My motto? “Everything is fine.”

But my oh my, Reader, everything was not fine. I just kept getting sicker and sicker, and my mom was not there to check on me. My weight was constantly up-and-down, but less up-and-down than my mood or my credit card statements. And to top it off, I was basically only ingesting caffeine, because I was substituting caffeine for sleep. I cringe just having to remember it all as I type this letter. It’s that girl, Reader, that I want to give advice to.

I want to tell her to take care of herself. She will be happier when she starts eating healthy, sleeping normal hours, making responsible financial decisions. It’s a juggling act. You will still have friends, even if sometimes you have to stay in. You will do well in your classes if you don’t procrastinate and do get real sleep, rather than staying up all night to study or write the perfect paper.

And all the nights that girl was miserable and cried and thought about leaving college? I want to tell her that it absolutely will be okay, and it will get better, and that now I’m walking, living proof of just that. You just need to learn to juggle and make choices. Your freshman year does not need to be one long memory that makes you... facepalm.

The other big piece of advice I want to share, Reader, is to try everything! You never know what you LOVE until you’re doing something and you LOVE it. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket too soon, either.

My old self had a full blown panic attack after talking to an advisor. She thought the major wasn’t for her, college wasn’t for her, all her plans and thoughts about herself were completely wrong and she had no idea who she was. Ha! I laugh when I think back to that girl and that moment of my life. I left my advisor’s office, stomach curling thinking that my short, short life was already coming to an end. I’d get a crummy part-time job, find a crummy, little apartment, and live a crummy, unhappy life. And believe me, Reader, “Crummy” is not the word I was using. Just... more facepalm.

But I persisted because I knew that I never wanted to settle for crummy. Spoiler alert: It worked. Now, I’m getting ready to graduate and hunt for a not crummy job in a field I love. But I would have never known that if 1) I gave up on school after thinking I put all my eggs in the wrong basket, and 2) I didn’t try everything and anything hoping I’d find something.

I took classes in the COMS major, just trying to get through it and to continue learning in hopes that by the time I reached the finish line, I wouldn’t just be settling. That’s when I accidentally stumbled upon public relations. I discovered I love everything about it. I’m a people person, I thrive in high stress situations, and I love getting a chance to be creative. It’s silly now, thinking about previous me genuinely believing her life that she worked so hard on was over just because she was suddenly unsure for the first time in her career path. I learned that the truth is, nobody really knows who they are or who they’re becoming, and that’s all part of the experience!

In fact, Reader, let me tell you a secret: Some people make a plan and follow their plan and do everything according to their plan and are happy. But really, most of us are all walking around looking at each other for guidance and not really knowing anything at all. And you know what? That is completely, overwhelmingly okay and normal. I’m still not completely positive about what my whole life will look like, and I’m completely okay with that. I’m still young, and I’m positive I will discover more about myself as I continue growing and doing.

I hope that this letter was at least a little helpful for you. It’s some of the advice I wish I had gotten during my lost moments. I can’t go back in time and talk to myself, as much as I wish I could, but maybe just maybe you can learn something for me from me.

Good luck, and I can’t wait to meet future you,

Present, Soon-to-be-graduating, Me

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