To My Freshman Self, Just You Wait Until Senior Year

Dear my freshman self,

In eighth grade your social studies teacher made you write a letter to your high school senior self. You received this letter senior year and remembered all of these things that had happened years ago. It was a nice way to look back before you graduated.

I don't think you need a letter to remind you of high school. That just happened. I think you need some assurance that there's going to be some light in your life again, even if you can't imagine it right now.

There are three things that I promise will happen during these next three years of school. First, you're still going to find a voice that's much bigger than yourself. Second, you're going to find people and passions that will pull you out of the darkest head space you've ever been in. Third, you're going to get a larger window and actually have sunlight in your room again. I wasn't kidding about the "light in your life" part.

I'm sure you're telling people it takes a lot to make you angry. I still say that. But you're going to learn what you actually want to fight for. You're going to meet people, take classes, and live enough to get angry at what's going on around you. You'll advocate for anything that has to do with mental health or disability rights. You'll snap at your friend when they make a joke about girls in wrestling. You're going to realize that when you are angry you've got a lot to say in a conversation, and sometimes those conversations happen with your friends. You're going to get so much better at trusting yourself enough to speak your mind.

I know you feel like you have nothing right now - like you've lost most of the people and things you care about through this transition. You're not sure how these new relationships are going to go or if you'll make more friends. You thought you found your place and family in your scholar's program but for some reason it's just not enough. You're going to find new things. You'll even find your way back to old things. There's so much more on the way.

You're going to be in so many "families" and have all these people you inspire you every day to be better. You're going to have people that float in and out, but in the end, you'll see the ones who are there to stay.

You may not be able to imagine it now, but you're going to spend two nights a week helping make a campus "Survivor." You're going to live with some of these people. Some of these people will know you better than you do. You may be in what has been declared one of the weirdest clubs on campus but you won't be able to imagine a better family to be a part of.

You might be able to imagine this next one a little more. Remember in your eighth-grade letter how you wrote about your first wrestling meet? You still love it and you still can't imagine spending your winters (basically all year now) anywhere else. You're going to spend a lot of time sending emails. You're also going to spend a lot of time worrying about messing up the score clock. But like "Survivor" you'll find a family here. Also, don't think you're ever going anywhere warm for spring break because you're going to give up a trip to Florida to go watch NCAA's in Pittsburgh.

Lastly, I'm serious about the window thing. I know it's hard to live in a place with no light because your window has had a construction cover for most of the year. I promise next year you get a window as tall as the wall. After that, you'll have one that floods your room with sunlight. You're going to wake up, actually want to get out of bed, and see the light again.

You're going to keep loving music and stories - going to concerts and watching so many shows it's probably not good for you (including watching all of "Game of Thrones" in one week). You're going to meet friends from all over the world. You're going to fall in love with Vian, Oklahoma. You're going to get robbed on the way there one time but it's okay because your laptop will be on its deathbed anyway. You're even going to have a wrestling fan try to start a fight with you just because you make awkward eye contact. But then you'll have your friend sitting there saying he'll fight him for you.

Your heart's going to hurt and you'll fall back a couple of times. But instead of sleeping you're going to learn how to talk through things instead. The pain's going to dull and you're going to feel better. You'll be terrified but dive headfirst into things again.

You're going to love so much. From people to passions you're going to throw yourself in 110% and not give it a second thought.

So get out of bed and open the blinds on that tiny joke of a window you have - you're going to want to be awake for this.

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