I remember myself as a fourteen year old freshman, I remember searching, and still, I search. I cannot tell you what you’re feeling, and there is no way that you are supposed to feel. Your feelings, your truths, are yours and I can’t understand that. When I left middle school, I remember my last bus ride as numb. Maybe it’s because I was an apathetic eighth grader, maybe it's because my middle school experience was a never-ending tapestry of awkward moments and pretending to be sick to escape school and said awkward moments. I was so unsure of myself, and I expected to find my place in the world in high school, to become an expert when it came to my own brain and it’s innerworkings, but I am still learning everyday. You will make mistakes, there will be moments when your heart feels like a paperweight in your chest, you might even feel like a failure at times. You aren’t. For all of my life, I have put a magnifying glass to my flaws, examined them, inflated them into bigger things than they were, and when I succeeded, I feared it would be the last time. I was never good enough for my perfectionist persona.
Fourteen felt empty, I always felt like I was missing something. The truth is that there are no stray pieces of you floating throughout the universe, you are simply growing, learning. I am not the same person that I was three years ago, I have shifted mindsets drastically, I have grown much more comfortable in my skin, and I will continue that journey for years to come. You will always grow, and four years from now, if you don’t recognize the person you were anymore, that’s okay. What you are at this moment in time is enough, I was enough at fourteen, and I am enough now, but in a different way. I have learned to remain in the present, to appreciate little moments, to realize that the past has passed and the future is not yet at the edge of my fingertips. You will surprise yourself in high school. My natural mentality has always been to tell myself that I will fail, that there is no way I can be great, but I find myself shellshocked by my own abilities more often than you might think. Your friend group may thin out, not because of stinging words or harsh fighting, simply because as you grow, your soul will naturally magnetize towards people who understand you, or don’t, but linger despite that. Of course, not everyone will understand you, and sometimes their confusion will morph into contention, but that does not mean you regress, you continue to move forward, even through growing pains.
I know some of you. I know the ones who will keep their eyes glued to their phones during class, to the ones who will talk over teachers, to the ones who fail a subject they are fair at because homework is “above them.” I hope that if you are one of those people, you don’t wake up one day, when you are twenty of fifty or one hundred, and regret not caring about yourself enough to try. You have so much power within you, the power to better your life, the power to be happy, the power to overcome, but if you never even give yourself a chance, you will only stay in the same exact place you started. There will be moments when you feel like giving up, like there is no use in trying or it’s too late to turn your life around, but change starts with you. Nobody is going to hold your hand, and some days the only kindness you will receive is the compassion you grant yourself, but learning to act independently is vital. Do not let anyone affect your self image, only you know your truths, only you know what lies at the core of your heart. At the very end of the day, it is you that has to stare yourself down in your bathroom mirror and ask yourself if you could have done more. High school is not your life, it is a sliver of it that slips away with time. That person who doesn’t like you back? You probably won’t remember the color of their eyes in five years. That friend who betrayed you? They never deserved to feel your love. Those self deprecating thoughts that creep into your mind like a black fog? They don’t make you who you are, the person that you are comes from the way you laugh, the smiles you offer strangers, your ability to rise after you fall, the way in which you comfort people in their worst moments, those make you who you are. It took me a long time to realize that I am not defined by my mistakes or difficult instances, I am my smile, my strengths, my passions. It may not dawn on you right now, it may not dawn on you until you are twenty, or fifty, or one hundred, but it will, because it is your truth.
These four years are yours, yours to make the most of and laugh about in ten years, so enjoy them as much as you can, and remember that it isn’t forever (nothing is). Good luck, and treat yourself with kindness.
Dear Incoming Freshman (From an Incoming Senior)