An Open Letter To My Freshman Year Self

An Open Letter To My Freshman Year Self

Relax.
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First things first, take a deep breath.

And another.

And another.

OK, are you ready now?


Dear Freshman Self,

Everything is OK, and everything will be OK.

You are such a caring, thoughtful, and courageous young woman and you are going to really learn how strong you are in the next couple of years. I know you feel lost and overwhelmed and are adjusting to a new place but please don't take it all so seriously. This time will fly by, I promise you.

You are worth so much. Please surround yourself with people who make you feel that. All your life you have had friends just because you didn't have many to choose from, but now the choices are endless. Be selective in who you surround yourself with. It is OK to not click with people and to choose to no longer have them in your life. This is your book and you get to choose the characters. Don't let the natural process of friends coming and going from your life leave you so distressed, this is a blessing. Truly wonderful people are waiting for you, and this is making room for them.

Let him go. Let the yelling go. Let the fighting go. Let the constant stress go. You will feel as if the weight of the world has been released from your shoulders.

When you do let him go (and you will because even as a freshman you still kick ass) enjoy the time by yourself for a bit. Don't jump into the arms of another because you aren't sure how to be by yourself yet. You will figure it out. You are capable, I promise.

If it doesn't feel right then get up and go. YOU CAN SAY NO. You can say no to any situation at any time. Does that make sense to you? Please let that really sink into your head. At any point in time you can choose to change a situation. Later on you will realize how you wish you had done this more. This is your life, stop being afraid to make decisions and confront people. If someone is being sh**ty it is not your responsibility to make them feel OK about it.

You don't have to do it all. You don't have to work three jobs. You don't have to stay up all night. You don't have to go to every party and do amazing in every class. You are adjusting and figuring it all out and that is OK. Take a moment to breathe.

Continue to try new things and put yourself out there. You will meet people this way. The insecurity of trying new things won't last forever. Thank you for the courageous decisions you made and for finally being yourself. Your personality finally came through freshman year and we have really come a long way because of it.

The mistakes you're making are OK, I promise I survived the aftermath.

Lastly, enjoy this time. You are blessed to be exactly where you are. This time will fly by, you will grow, and you will change. But for the meantime, just enjoy it.

Love You More Each Day,

Your Proud Senior Year Self

P.S- I get you may have started out with a major you didn't enjoy, but please try to figure this out ASAP, because switching majors is a pain in the ass.

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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To The Teacher Who Broke My Spirit

Education should not be like this.

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No one should have to sit in a classroom and feel absolutely horrible about themselves. No one should have extreme dread going to office hours. Education should not be like this.

I have always been an A+ student my entire life. Even throughout college, I have remained a diligent and hard-working student. I've loved being involved and engaged in all of my classes. Up until you, I've enjoyed going to class and learning.

You have broken my spirit.

When I walk into your class, I feel completely incompetent. I doubt myself and intelligence every single day. I feel like no matter how much effort I put in, I get nothing out. I could study and do homework for hours on end, yet I still only get below average grades. Every time I have to email you or attend office hours, I have extreme anxiety. Anything that involves you or your class makes me cringe. I know may this sounds super dramatic, but we've all been there at one point or another—and it flat out sucks.

Although you have made my life an absolute living hell, there's one silver lining to having to endure your class. You've made me appreciate all of the incredible professors I've had in the past. You've taught me what a real teacher is, and that is not you.

A real teacher is someone who genuinely wants his/her students to succeed, in both academics and life. They are not the easiest professors in the world, but they are kind and approachable. That is all I ask. I am not looking for an "easy A" from you or your class. I am looking for a teacher that has compassion for not only the topic but for the students too. You give the teachers who genuinely do amazing work a bad rep.

At the end of the day, you have taught me a life lesson...that not all people want me to succeed. In life, there will be people and things that stand in my way of achieving my goals. You have broken my spirit, but only temporarily. If anything, you have taught me to rise above the criticism and the negativity. I am not defined by the grade you give me or the way you treat me. I refuse to sink to your level.

You may have broken my spirit for now, but you will not keep me down for long. As Winston Churchill said,

"Kites fly highest against the wind—not with it."

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