There are many things I would tell my younger self before I headed off to college — pack fewer clothes, bring more snacks and don’t be afraid of 300 level law classes. Thinking about all the events that have happened in the past three years, and being able to use this column as my relational mouthpiece has allowed me to be cathartically reflexive. This ability has allowed me to recognize my mistakes and most importantly, learn from them. Nevertheless, I’ve written advice for my eager 18-year-old self and everyone going through orientation headed to Boston University in the fall.
To not be afraid to make mistakes is to learn how to live. I can promise you this, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You won’t remember to call your relatives all the time, you might miss a few birthdays, you will feel guilty about not being home for certain holidays. But try your best to keep in contact with those you care about. Call home. Call your grandmother. Call a random set of numbers and hope someone picks up, then ask them how they’re doing. Stay up late into the night talking to your best friend from high school about how much you’re both changing and growing into the people you want to be. College, as hard as it is, is a lot easier with a support system of whomever you need at your side.
During my freshman year, I hopped from friend group to friend group until I found the one that I finally belonged with. I associated and then disassociated from people who didn’t share the same priorities as me. There are so many people who you can keep moving around until you find those who accept you for who you are. This takes time. A lot of learning in college comes from trial and error. Sometimes you have to get a lot of things wrong before you get something right. When you find those people who will always be by your side, as I did with the girls in my sorority, it will feel like coming home.
You are going to learn how to say goodbye, you will learn how to tell people how they made you feel — both good and bad. You’re going to say goodbye too early and hold onto people you should have never said hello to. This is all part of the process. Know that you are going to make mistakes. You are going to make the wrong choices, perhaps say the wrong words, choose the wrong people. But isn’t that the wonder of it all, knowing you’re going to make mistakes and making them anyway? You learn from every mistake so much so that you will stop calling them mistakes and begin to call them another name — in my case, research, and in other cases, learning. Each date, breakup, fight and awkward experience is an opportunity to learn something about yourself and to how to handle each heartbreak and every feeling of hurt. You hurt, you recover, you grow and you learn.
One goes to college for many different reasons — to achieve personal goals, to satisfy a familial need, to learn more about the world we live in. The social excitement of going to college is the additional education that comes outside of the classroom — learning how to be a good friend, a good support system, a good listener and a good member of the global community. Harbor good relationships with those around you and those far, but remember that one of the most important relationships you will have will be with yourself. In college, you will have to learn where your limits lie and when you need to ask for help. This is another part of the process. Take care of yourself first, and other things fall in order.
These next four years are going to be everything you can imagine and some things that you can’t. It will be some of the most crazy, fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, mistake-filled, sleepless days and nights that you’re going to experience. Take each day in stride, make the most of it and allow yourself space and patience you need to make mistakes and grow. You’re going to do great, I just know it.