A Letter To My High School Friends, Now That We're In College

A Letter To My High School Friends, Now That We're In College

A thank you note to the people who helped me grow.

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When I told myself that leaving San Diego and heading across the country to Atlanta for college was going to be the hardest thing I'd ever do, that was the understatement of the year.

As a kid who followed a fairly unorthodox academic path in terms of moving between schools, I found myself socially behind all of my friends for the first fifteen years of my life. As I finished elementary school at an institution with only 150 kids and walked onto my middle school's campus alone and looked around at the 2400 students, I couldn't help but feel scared. It was like showing up to a party solo an hour before it ends and finding everyone already grouped up and deep into conversation, leaving you wondering why you even bothered coming. It felt like I didn't have a choice though, and I did what I could to keep myself afloat.

It is phases like that where you almost lose all hope. You hold onto that little thread of "I mean maybe things will change soon" just to keep yourself from giving up. And that's really, really tough. From trying to focus your energy on other parts of your life to stress eating the feelings away, the coping mechanisms seem endless. But I've found that no matter what, hard work will always bring good fortune.

To the high school friends who I knew would be worth it the day I met them, who dealt with my overly-passionate music obsession, who taught me not to overthink everything, who wasted hundreds of dollars on gas while driving around with me, who binged on pizza, pools, and Black Mirror with me, who climbed mountains outside concert venues at midnight with me, who teamed up in Spikeball with me, who destroyed the subwoofers in our cars with me, who ignored curfew with me, who didn't raise me but grew with me, failed with me, and graduated with me, thank you doesn't do it justice. You changed my life more than I can describe and I still can't believe I get to call you family. Yes, leaving California was extremely difficult, that'd be difficult for anyone who spent their entire childhood there. But leaving you was harder, and I can only hope that we all find each other again while paving our own paths.

Five years ago I wouldn't have believed it, but there are some people that you will meet in your life that truly change everything. People who make you fall over laughing just by being themselves or make you throw on a wide smile just by looking at you. When people say that only you can create your own happiness, I understand and agree with where they're coming from, but it's the other people in your life that help you discover what happiness means.

To my high school friends, I hope your life gives you everything you wished for and more because I cannot wait to watch you succeed.

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What I'm Giving Up Beyond Lent

Change your life in a way that extends far beyond Easter Sunday by giving up negative behaviors.

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Each year, millions of Christians give up something for Lent. The usual suspects include soda, chocolate, cursing, and alcohol, but this commitment hardly ever extends beyond the Lenten season, if it even lasts past the first few weeks of Lent. Seldom do these promises result in actual, long-term, positive changes. As we emerge from the season of Lent, it is helpful to think of ways in which we can give up negative behaviors and promote a healthier mindset that will serve a purpose well beyond Easter Sunday.

1. Shopping for pain on social media

While listening to an episode of Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe, she mentioned her policy of, "not shopping for pain on social media." I was immediately intrigued by this and decided to adopt it as a policy in my own life. This means no lurking on your ex's new girlfriend's Instagram or checking up on the girl who bullied you in middle school. When you are insta-stalking, you're only on a quest to find something that will hurt you. Social media can be a great way to connect with friends or to share fun moments, but it can also be a place that makes you insecure. Do not be afraid to unfollow accounts which make you feel bad about yourself. Opt to make your feed a positive place by following your friends, people who inspire you, and accounts that make you laugh. Next time you go to type your ex's name into that search bar, stop yourself and ask why you want to see something that will make you sad.

2. Negative Self-Talk

My goal for 2019 is to stop negative self-talking. This means stop doubting myself or feeding into the negative thoughts that pop up in my mind. I try to replace self-doubt with positive affirmations. Instead of thinking, "I can't do this," think, "this is going to be hard, but I am going to get through this." Instead of thinking, "I'm not good enough," think, "I may not be the best version of myself, but I am working on reaching my highest potential." It is easy to compare yourself to others or to beat yourself up for things that are out of your control, it is not easy to combat those thoughts and overcome them with the power of positivity. It's hard work to change your mindset but it's so worth it, that's why I am carrying this goal beyond Easter.

3. Toxic Relationships

Everyone has that one friend who makes everything about them and is never there to support you. Toxic relationships can be mentally and emotionally draining, and ultimately unhealthy for both parties involved. Find the right way to respectfully remove yourself from the relationship and move on to people who are truly caring and supportive. Finding friends who empower you can make a huge difference in your life by motivating you to be the best version of yourself. Surround yourself with positive people and foster loving relationships with them, it will give you more peace of mind than you ever knew you needed.

4. Not practicing self-care

Self-care is self-love! Take time out of your busy day to put your mind to rest and focus on yourself. Whether this means watching an episode of your favorite Netflix show while doing a face mask or sitting down before you go to bed and writing out a diary entry, it's important to focus on you. Ignoring your needs can have a serious toll on your mental health which can affect you physically as well. Taking care of your mind means taking care of your body too! Stop going to bed at 2 AM every night before your 8 AM if you know it makes you slumped the rest of the day. Listen to what you need and respond to it!

5. Making up excuses for yourself (and others)

I cannot even count how many times I have told myself that I'd skip the gym today and go tomorrow only to never go at all. It's the same for every time I reached for the fried food in the dining hall instead of fresh vegetables, telling myself I'd eat healthier tomorrow. There is no time like the present! Stop making excuses for yourself and accomplish today what you said you'd accomplish tomorrow. Also, try giving up making excuses for other people. If your friend is continuing to ignore you and it's hurting you, do not brush it aside. Sit down for a meaningful, respectful conversation to communicate openly about how you feel.

6. Inauthenticity

We all deal with the pressure to fit in, but 2019 is the year to be yourself! There's no need to give into trends that you don't even like just because everyone else is wearing it; rock your own style and feel confident wearing it. People will like you when you are the truest version of yourself, so do not put on an act just to try to get people to like you. True friends will love the real you in all of your imperfections.

7. Being uninformed

There's a lot going on in the world today and it can be difficult to keep up with it all. Sometimes it feels like every time you blink you miss a new breaking news story. We are living in an important time in history and it would be a shame to look back and realize that you were missing events that were happening right in front of your eyes. Fortunately, there is a multitude of innovative news sources that are made for the fast-paced, digital world we live in today. You can subscribe to a daily e-mail newsletter that you can read first thing when you wake up in the morning (like TheSkimm) or right before you shut your eyes at night (like What A Day). If you're on-the-go, subscribe to a daily news podcast that you can listen to on your way to class or work in the morning (I recommend NPR Up FIrst). It's even possible to get all your news right on your Twitter feed by following CNN and other news agencies. Switch it up and read Axios to get the most important stories of the day packaged into easily digestible summaries. If you want more in-depth analysis, pick up a newspaper or read it online! A lot of colleges offer free subscriptions to major newspapers that every student should take advantage of.

8. Wastefulness

Try to eliminate the waste that you are producing by switching up your habits. Purchase reusable straws instead of tossing out a non-biodegradable plastic one each time you finish your morning coffee. A lot of stores (and campus dining locations) offer discounts to customers who bring their own cup so buy a tumbler or durable bottle that you can use instead of single-use plastic bottles. Make sure to properly sort your recycling so that it can be properly collected. Cutting down your water consumption is important too, so next time you hop in the shower, try to shave off five minutes. Also, try being mindful of

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