Dear Freshman self,
If you’re reading this letter,
That means you’re eighteen going on nineteen
A Brooklyn goose making a four year stop in the Jersey forest
Eager to start the next part of your journey.
Here are some things you must remember.
1. When you wake up in the morning of your first day
You might want to look in the mirror, make sure your eyeliner’s on point,
But take a quick glance over your shoulder.
Look at your roommate.
Her face, which you first saw yesterday, is lit in bars of sunlight and artificial darkness.
Take in her soft cheeks and her perfectly curved lips.
Remember that face.
2. When your friends leave you in the dust,
You’ll want to keep searching.
You’ll do anything to get someone’s attention,
Join all the clubs, go to all the events, chat up every single person you meet
Even though you’ll inevitably go home with a pit in your stomach
Because you forgot to shake their hand.
3. When someone mistakes your softness for weakness,
Build a concrete wall around yourself and shut them out.
You may be tempted not to look through the cracks in the haphazard structure,
For you are a lamb thrown into a world of wolves
Who think and move as one,
And if you don’t keep your guard, they will tear you to pieces.
4. The work will pile up.
It’ll feel like all the professors are sadomasochists
Keeping you chained to your desk
Fingers slavishly tapping on the keyboard until your bitten nails are bleeding and your bones glisten in the dim glow of your lamp
And not getting your first paper back until the end of the semester
You’ll want to rip your hair out from every part of your body
Tie it back, soldier.
Keep sculpting, for your words are chisels
Hacking at the sweat-stained marble walls
Don’t stop until the sunlight pours in.
Now spread your wings, little bird.
Let the thermals carry you to greatness
Let your toes skim the clouds
Breathe: inflate your shriveled lungs
Let the warmth loosen your shrunken muscles
Let the stars swim back into your eyes.
5. You’re not the best, nor are you the worst.
You’re not the most popular, nor are you the most tortured.
You’re not the most stylish or the most outgoing or creative or consistent or disciplined.
You wanted to crawl into a corner to escape the static
But still you pressed on.
Still, you persisted.