A Letter To My Freshman Self

A Letter To My Freshman Self

All the things I wish I knew when I started college.
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Dear Alanna,

Hey there, kiddo. This is you from the future. I know you’re so stubborn that you probably won’t listen to your 23-year-old self, but just hear me out, okay?

You’re about to start college! Yay! Congratulations! I know you’re really scared and excited which causes you many bouts of nausea, but don’t worry. Once you start walking those halls you’ll realize you have nothing to fear except midterms. (Also the smell of classrooms after a class full of boys leaves, but just sit near the door and avoid the engineering lab at all costs.)

Your life is about to change in a big way so here’s some advice from the person who knows you best (other than your therapist, but we’ll get to that later):

1. You’re taking too many credits.

I know you’re a perfectionist and feel like you can take over the world (which you totally can), but you’re just starting out so you need to let yourself relax and enjoy your freshman year as much as possible. Some kids can take 18.5 credits while working, being involved and having a social life, but this isn’t high school and you’re going to wear yourself out if you don’t slow down. Drop down to at least 15 credits and enjoy this time.

2. Live on campus this year.

You’ve never been keen on sharing spaces with people you don’t know, but college is not like summer camp so quit the superior I’m-an-adult-and-too-cool-for-the-dorms” attitude or you’re going to really regret it. You think freedom and happiness is living with your high school sweetheart in an apartment off-campus, but spoiler alert: you won’t be with him by Halloween of your sophomore year and since he’s not going to college, it’s going to be impossible to indulge in the whole “college experience” while everyone else in your classes are making friends and having fun in the dorms. I’m not even going to start about how you should’ve listened to literally everyone in the world when they told you not to bring your high school boyfriend to college because frankly, you’re being a total jerk at this age and you probably wouldn’t listen to me if I hopped in a time machine and smacked you in the face. (P.S. That technology doesn’t exist yet, so it’s still just an expression. Don’t get all excited about heading back to see Woodstock or whatever.)

3. Join every campus club/activity you possibly can.

I know you’re in THON but so is everybody else at school and your campus has so much more to offer. Even though you think you’re not a “joiner” type person right now, you absolutely are. Not only are these things going to look great on your resume, but you’re gonna make a load of friends and eventually settle into a group of people who share your interests. Once again, you’re not too cool to participate. You’re not even cool enough to have the confidence to wear dresses to class, so don’t even try to defend yourself.

4. Go around and meet every professor in the department of your major.

I realize you’re very shy at this time and you don’t think important teachers have the time or concern for a freshman, but you’re wrong. They do care (at least most of them do), and you’ll be really glad you started building relationships with these people so soon. They’ll be impressed by your go-getter attitude and you’ll eventually be in most of their courses which will make life easier because they’ll already know you when you come into their classrooms. There’s so much you don’t know about your major and meeting with them will give you many opportunities you wouldn’t have known otherwise. (Also, your undergrad advisor has no idea what the hell she’s doing and I honestly think she drinks at work.)

5. Publish your damn paper.

You have no idea what I mean, but you’re going to soon, and when the opportunity comes, don’t blow it off because the academic journal requires at least 15 pages and you “don’t feel like it.” That’s stupid. Stop being so stupid.

6. Start dating other people.

I know I said I wouldn’t get into this, but you really dropped the ball here. You think you’re so in love with your high school boyfriend and you are, but everyone is right about him and you’re making a huge mistake. I’m not saying you should run around school slutting it up, but you’ve never even gone on a date with anyone else and you should experience that. Honestly, you shouldn’t really be in such a serious relationship in your freshman year. You should be socializing with other guys but also focusing more on your academics than your boyfriend. I’m not going to tell you the details, but he gets you in trouble and he continues to be a burden on you even four whole years after you break up. Taylor Swift will come out with a song soon called “I Knew You Were Trouble” and you’ll listen to this over and over, kicking yourself because you knew he was in trouble. Seriously, stupid, stupid girl.

7. Finally, don’t let the stress overwhelm you.

Look, I know things seem crazy right now and as your first year of college presses on, you feel like you’re slipping at times and like everything is piling up. You feel overwhelmed and think you can’t handle everything you have to do (all of which, if you listen to the aforementioned advice, wouldn’t be such an enormous list), but you’re still learning your way around this new world and things aren’t as bad as they seem. You’re too proud to ask for help so you allow yourself to drown in all your responsibilities. It’s fine, you’re only human, but you need to know that no matter how much stress you’re under and no matter how bad things seem, you are strong and wonderful. Your hard work is not in vain and you are not hopeless. Your life is precious, you are worthwhile and you need to remind yourself this. You need to remember what all the hard work is for. Remember your purpose and the dreams you have and understand that everything is going to be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you start feeling beleaguered by life, reach out to your friends and family and even your professors. They all will come to your aid and help pick up the slack. You’ll be happier too because in addition to your lighter load, you’ll remember the gigantic support system around you and you’ll be grateful for all the people in your life who love you and just want to see you succeed.

Well, that’s all I’ll tell you for now. I wish I could get this letter to you in time, but you’ll have to experience all your mistakes because like I said, time travel doesn’t exist yet.

That sucks, right? Like, they’ve managed to make cell phones and computers that use your fingerprints instead of passwords and cars that drive themselves, but somehow time travel isn’t possible? So many useless things happen in the next few years of your life, and you’ll love most of it but it’s all pretty useless.

So even though you won’t read this, hopefully other kids entering college will and be helped by the advice. You’ll continue to learn and impart your knowledge upon anyone who will listen, but one thing I’ll say is that college is going to be amazing and worth every minute. You have a pretty great life at 23 and despite the occasional lows (many of which can be blamed on your new car), life continues to get better. Enjoy every moment, kiddo. You’re in for one helluva ride.

Sincerely,

Future You

P.S. Pop culture gets really hilarious in the coming years. You think Kanye can’t possibly get any crazier, but oh my, you are in for quite a treat.

Cover Image Credit: You Visit Penn State Harrisburg Virtual Tour

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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21 Quotes From Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' That Will Fuel Your Artistic Self

Use your half-baked ideas for good!

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Twyla Tharp is a master dancer and choreographer. She's worked with the world's most prestigious artists to create works that will withstand the test of time. She published her book "The Creative Habit" as a viewing window for seeing into her creative process. Tharp offers both hard truths and gently encouraging words for both serious artists and everyday people just trying to expand their circle of knowledge about art. I compiled some quotations from the book that were profound, useful and to-the-point when it comes to examining artistic development.

1. "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."

You get some creativity! YOU get some creativity! Everyone gets creativity!

2. "If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

3. "Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity."

4. "In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down."

5. "Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself."

Ouch. Toes stepped on.

6. "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing to what we have experienced before."

"It's *literally* like this..."

7. "...get busy copying. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

Choose your muse wisely!

8. "You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun..."

9. "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going. Musicians know this because compositions rarely come to them whole and complete. They call their morsels of inspiration lines or riffs or hooks or licks. That's what they look for when they scratch for an idea."

You know you look crazy, but press on, baby ideas in hand!

10. "It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful."

"Alexa, play the Reading Rainbow theme song."

11. "...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."

Screw this global need for instant information. You gotta just let things run their course sometimes.

12. "Habitually creative people are, in E.B. white's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Twyla Tharp is really just a more Type A version of Bob Ross.

13. "I know it's important to be prepared, but at the start of the process this type of perfectionism is more like procrastination. You've got to get in there and do."

14. "You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity."

15. "That's what the great ones do: They shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections."

16. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above your craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

17. "My heroes are those who've prevailed over far greater losses than I've ever had to face."

18. "Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you."

19. "...there's a lesson here about finding your groove. Yes, you can find it via a breakthrough in your craft. But you can also find it in other means -- in congenial material, in a perfect partner, in a favorite character or comfortable subject matter."

20. "A math professor at Williams College bases ten percent of his students' grades on failure. Mathematics is all about trying out new ideas -- new formulas, theorems, approaches -- and knowing that the vast majority of them will be dad ends. To encourage his students not to be afraid of testing their quirkiest ideas in public, he rewards rather than punishes them for coming up with wrong answers."

This approach would've been so helpful.

21. "I began as a dancer, and in those days of pain and shock I went back to where I started. Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself. Even in the worst of times, such habits sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up."

Take Twyla's knowledge and have fun exploring creativity in your personal life!

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