To the girl I used to be,

I want to start this out by saying that you are the person you are today because of everything you have been through and every choice you have made. Getting to this point hasn’t always been easy, and who’s to say that it’s going to get any easier. But I am here to say that’s OK! Don’t worry about it. Not everything is in your control. It might not have always been an easy road to travel down, but you’ve had more good times, memories, and successes along the way than you can even remember. Everything has turned out just how it was supposed to, and you are well on your way to achieving everything you want to in life.

Senior year is absolutely flying by, and I sometimes wonder how I can already be at this point. Seriously, the real world is upon me, and that's a little scary to think about! However, there’s no more grey area in terms of what I plan on studying or what career path I intend to follow. What seems to be the weirdest is that I don’t feel like I am quite the same person I was when I first started my freshman year at this small, private liberal arts school that I have called home for the last four years. I am the same person I have always been, but I am also very different. I mean, I’ve certainly carried pieces of my old self along with me, but I’ve also grown tremendously as a person. After all, isn’t that part of college and growing up?

Because this journey into adulthood hasn’t always been easy, here are a few things to remember when things aren’t quite going your way.

Not everything is in your control

This has, perhaps, been one of the hardest lessons I have learned. I will admit that I can be a bit of a control freak. When I first came to Emory & Henry College, I thought that I had everything planned out. I would major in biology or chemistry and apply to medical schools. Things didn’t exactly work out this way, and I was not happy about it for a while. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I couldn't control every aspect of my life, it seemed like everything started to fall into place. I eventually changed my major to mass communications and minored in graphic design, which turned out to be exactly where I belonged.

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Yes, most everything you have achieved so far has been greatly attributed to the large amount of pressure you put on yourself to succeed. However, give yourself a break every now and then. You are human. You can make mistakes. You would probably be a little less stressed if you weren’t so hard on yourself all the time. Don’t get me wrong; success does come from pushing yourself to be the best you can be. Just keep in mind that you do have limits and be aware of what those are.

Accept a challenge with open arms

Some things in life are going to challenge you more than others, and sometimes that will stress you out. I'm here to tell you to embrace whatever challenge gets thrown your way and welcome it with open arms. Every challenge you overcome only makes you better and stronger.

Don't be afraid of failure

Failure is inevitable. That's all there is to it. However, it's nothing to be afraid of. How can you ever really succeed in anything if you've never known failure? Failure teaches us, we learn from it, and we then better know how to combat those challenges that come upon us. Sometimes failure is exactly what we need at that given moment in time to push us to work harder. Hey, if it wasn't for some level of failure, I wouldn't be about to graduate from E&H with a degree in mass communications. I would instead be sitting in a biology lab, likely miserable.

Friends come and go, but some stay

Throughout life, you meet so many new people and make so many new friends. Some stay and some go. Not every single friend is meant to stay in your life forever. I am a firm believer that everyone comes into your life for a reason, but after someone has fulfilled their role, it is then time for that person to move on. So, don't try to hold on to those that have already fulfilled their role in your story. Instead, hold onto those few that do stay. I am lucky enough to have several friends that I know will always be there. I don't have to mention any names because they know who they are. Hold on to those people, cherish them, and don't let them go.

Procrastination is on your side (at least, most of the time)

For the most part, I am a professional procrastinator. More times than not, it has worked out for me. I am well aware that this is not a good practice, and it doesn't work for everyone, but it does work for me. Some of my best work in design classes and some of my best papers have been completed in the wee hours of the morning as I pulled countless all-nighters before a deadline. Is this sometimes stressful? Yes. I think I actually thrive on stress and pressure. This is when my thought process is usually at its prime. But don't forget that it's also good to be ahead of the game.

Be open-minded

I think this is one of the most valuable things I have learned over the past few years, and I give my time at E&H much of the credit. I’ve learned that it’s so important to be considerate of other people and their opinions and views. If we are open-minded to becoming knowledgeable on the different sides to topics, then we can only become better people in society. When I stopped judging other people for their decisions or ideas and started taking into consideration why they do think or act that way, it changed me. It changed me for the better.

I strive to look at the world with an open mind. It’s made me happier, and it’s helped me find my own opinions and make my own decisions. I consider myself to be a more informed and accepting individual, and because of this, I have found that I am more accepting of myself -- of my own flaws and imperfections. After all, those flaws and imperfections -- along with everything else -- make me who I am today.

With this, I move on to my parting words to the girl I used to be. Put yourself and your own wants and needs ahead of everyone else's every once in a while. Love yourself. I cannot even begin to stress the importance of that enough. You only get this one life to live, so make the most of it. Don’t worry about petty things. Look at the world and your everyday life with the “glass half full” perspective. Trust me, you’ll be happier than you realized possible if you keep these things in mind. You have the most incredible support system of family and friends. Don’t be afraid to lean on them. Most importantly, be yourself, because there’s nobody else out there just like you. Embrace that, shoot for the stars, and don't let anyone get in your way!

Sincerely,

The young woman you have become