A letter to my freshman self in an age of perseverance

Chein Shee Antoinette Yen, Contributing Writer

Dear freshman me,

You are about to embark on the best and most challenging four years of your life, beginning today.

Don’t worry, I understand how you might be feeling right now: nervous about starting a life for yourself so far away from your family, nervous about meeting people who might not share your sense of humor, morals or outlook on life. I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to be concerned about. Your life is better than you could have ever imagined.

You no longer look forward to the future with trepidation or hesitancy, but with anticipation, excitement and confidence. You have times when you feel alone, when the overwhelming thought of starting over prevents you from pushing your boundaries and diving in. But I can tell you, as you work to find a place where you belong, your confidence is tested time and time again.

Reflecting from where you are now, you will realize that it is these moments that have led you to evolve as a strong-willed individual. It was in times of loneliness and weakness that your strength shone through. But, if loneliness persists, remind yourself that there is so much to look forward to. Those who have lived it envy this time in your life, when you don’t have a care in the world, when you don’t have any responsibilities, when you truly feel invincible. But bear in mind that a large part of your invincibility stems from who you choose to surround yourself with. So, always be brave, astute and mindful of your choices.

You will have to deal with something that no 22-year-old should have to deal with: the loss of one of your best friends and roommate. The fear of losing yourself, your friends or your way limits your happiness and steals your joy. Struggling with a life crisis as severe as death eats away at your wellbeing, forcing you to choose whether to let the struggle control you or to persevere through the pain.

As a young adult, you will learn that it is okay to be selfish, choose empathy for yourself, and spread your wings, otherwise, you will always struggle with guilt in the future. You feel like a shell, your soul lost in who you were before. But then you recall how, just like freshman year, in your moments of loneliness and weakness, you discovered how strong you are. You’ll get through it to tell the story.

Grief’s arduous path leads to a beautiful world of healing and gratitude. If there is one thing I can tell you, knowing what I know now, it is that you must seize every opportunity to express your love for your friends. Hug them for one more second and tell them you love them the next time you think about it. Death gives birth to a new sense of gratitude for life. You will be changed for the better for the rest of your life.

You will live bigger, love harder and become the strongest version of yourself. Coming into college, you are still just a kid, you don’t know what you want to do with your life or who you want to become and that’s okay. Challenges will throw themselves at you, but with time you find that you can handle anything. So, don’t fear for the future, but anticipate the joy in the present because the beauty lies in these little moments. Yes, four years on, do think of this letter with a smile on your face!