A letter to my 18-year-old self
Originally published by IonianNews.com on December 5, 2012. One year and one day later, these life lessons still strongly apply (although I’d also suggest wearing flats to senior formal).
Mazel tov, high school is over. Somehow you managed to make it four long years in gray man-pants and itchy knee socks. Congratulations, you survived an all girls’ high school and years of awkward pre and post-pubescence. Now you’re off to college.
It’s early August and in a few days your six or so bags will be drastically over-packed and you’ll be en route to New Rochelle. Don’t be scared. It looks a lot like Brooklyn, minus the brownstone stoops and the ethnic dollar stores. The streets aren’t numbered so just remember Chauncey comes before Coligni and if you hit KFC, you’ve gone too far.
You over-packed because you’re overcompensating for years of uniform. Don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of dressing yourself—and your roommate is on her way from Albany with a full-sized wardrobe.
That same roommate will become your sister and you’ll be forever thankful your childhood best friend chose Iona too. The suite of three you’re placed with freshman year will quickly evolve into a pack of ten girls you brave sketchy frat parties with and call your best friends. You’re going to fight about cleaning and clothes and things that don’t matter, but you’re going to love each other unconditionally. Try not to let that fight you have over Red Mango get to you. They’re still your best friends come senior year (and everyone ends up fitting in the car).
Take your finals seriously, especially second semester. Your first-semester grades are going to scare the living hell out of you. Consider this a lesson learned that studying doesn’t equal up to the amount of trips you take to Deli Mart in a one-hour cram session. Be grateful. Deli Mart won’t be 24-hours forever.
You’re going to get an awful haircut prompted by a boy across the hall telling you “you won’t.” Try not to panic. It grows in pretty nicely. Remember not to jump at every “you won’t” because sometimes you just shouldn’t.
Sophomore year you will date a nice, tall boy on the Pipe Band and you will fall head over heels in lust and love. He’ll introduce you to new music, the movie “Elf” and his family. Brace yourself. You will break up, think the world is ending and sit back and watch as all of your roommates fall in love and stuff. You’ll find refuge in the school’s gym you never really knew was there and you’ll write more. You’ll find a new love in yourself (and Verizon DVR).
You will make it to 21, and you will be happy. You’ll meet plenty of boys and make more friends than you know what to do with.
When you’re 20, I’ll thank you for never going to Tropicana. There will be one night you almost go but you’ll be halted by a $40 cover charge because the “Jay Z of mariachi bands” is playing. The friend you’re with will try to haggle the bouncer but he’ll lose with only half the shame you felt agreeing to go to Tropicana in the first place.
I’ll also thank you for never dropping out, setting fire to your apartment or losing your debit card. You will chip your front tooth at Beechmont and run out of off-campus money every single semester.
Call your mom. Every day. She misses you and she misses dad. Sophomore year, she’ll learn to text. Look past the all-caps, she gets the hang of it junior year. Save her voicemails and always say you love her more.
Don’t forget your Brooklyn roots. People are going to ask you if you’ve ever shot a gun and why you don’t sound like Steve Buscemi. That will keep happening. Chin up, you’re in Westchester now.
Remember your friends back home. They’re the ones who loved you even when your hair was pink and you quit Girl Scouts to pursue your “acting career.”
Most importantly, keep writing. That pit in your stomach when you declare your journalism major will disappear once you see your name in print. You want to spend your life writing, trust me on this one.
The next four years will be spent questioning your talents, your religion and yourself. Trust your instincts. Take a mental health day, or week when you need to. Befriend the boys across the hall. Go on scavenger hunts and take late night trips to the diner. Miss the 1:52 train and sleep on the floor of Grand Central Station.
Make it count. You’ll be fine.