Dear younger me,

Has it really been four years already? Man, time really flies. You won't believe the stuff that happens once you make it through sophomore year.

You don't really ever end up getting much better at volleyball, but that's okay because you still love it despite the impact on your knees. And your back. And your shins. Everywhere, really. Dad's almost late to senior night, but he still makes it in time for the photo op. You still have the senior night gifts on your desk at home.

Speaking of Dad, your relationship with the parentals will get exponentially better after this year. They're going to put you in therapy and take your laptop and phone for the summer and make you get a summer job, and it will honestly be the best thing they'll ever do for you. You'll still get in petty fights with Mom, but they get less frequent over the years. Eventually, it turns into Maggie calling you and complaining about her argument of the week while you roll your eyes and tell her that Mom's probably right.

And I can't talk about Mom without talking about Libby, right? Man, you're going to hate that dog at first. You're going to think the family can't handle getting another dog, that we don't have the time for it. Give it six months and that dog is going to be your favorite member of the family. When you go to college, she's the one you miss the most. As I sit and write this, it's been a little over a month since you've seen her and you're really hoping your parents bring her for Parents and Family Weekend (hint, hint).

Speaking of college, where do I begin? You don't end up going to your top school (you don't even get into Wellesley, but that's okay because it's too big for you anyway). Instead, you end up at what is actually one of your last place schools, Quinnipiac University, and it's 100% because of the aesthetic. It's the perfect size and you find your niche right away: Pep Band.

It takes you a little bit to make friends in Pep Band because you miss every other rehearsal first semester for class and you're just a shy person, but you eventually find your spot. Don't bother trying to find khakis at Target; go straight to AE because anything else will always be too short.

And I can't talk about college and Pep Band without mentioning, of course, the Event. I don't know how to tell you this, but you die halfway through your freshman fall semester. It isn't as bad as it sounds. Obviously, I'm still alive as a sophomore to tell you all this. It's been almost a year and you still don't know what made your heart stop, but you're fine now, really. Your doctor and therapist both think you might have PTSD, and yeah maybe you get a little more anxious around hospitals now, but really, that's the most favorable outcome.

Did I mention yet that you're a political science major? You go into freshman year with big dreams of being the first LGBTQ+ president (and, eventually, first female because Hillary doesn't win this year), and come out almost the opposite. You're going to go to DC over J-term and realize that policy really isn't your thing (you're also going to have an event at the inauguration that you'll never really know if it was a heart thing or an anxiety attack, but either way you go back to the dorm and watch it on your TV instead). And surprise! The minor you thought you declared never went through, so you're free to declare a minor in journalism instead.

The summer between freshman and sophomore year is the first summer you don't spend at Freund's since you start working. And it's weird! But it's also great. You get an amazing internship at the Lakeville Journal that makes you absolutely positive that you found what you want to do in life. You fall in love with photography too, as well as radio. Unfortunately, you also get caught up working a summer job that isn't exactly prosperous and leaves you pretty broke going into sophomore year.

Now that we're all caught up, I can't continue without mentioning the people around you right now. To start, family. You and Maggie are closer than ever now that you're not living together! Things get a little tenser when you're back at home for break, but overall you get along. You'll probably always feel like she's doing a lot more with her life than you are, but everyone moves at their own pace.

You're closer to your parents too. Not quite so close that you call them up at random intervals to tell them every single one of your problems, but still much closer than you are now. You still text Dad pictures of any firetrucks you see while you're out (and he gets a little sad that there isn't one from Salem). They're both going to get new jobs and be around so much more. Dad moves from sales to rock crushing, and Mom finally gets her nursing degree. She starts out in a hospital in Waterbury but moves to the visiting nurses association.

The thought of Salem brings me to Lizzy and Michelle. You're still just as close with Caelyn as you are in high school, but these girls are practically your sisters. I mean, Michelle was there when The Event happened. You're not getting rid of her after that. Her family is your family, and vice versa. Literally. You call her dad Dad too, and it's fine because your dads are practically the same person anyway (yours is just a bit taller and takes ice in his drinks). You even manage to get them into K-pop, which you could never do with your high school friends!

And of course, the rest of your friend group. Group Can't is the eventual title of the group chat (and later, CANUNOT after a license plate you see). Nancy and Sebastian transfer out of QU after freshman year, but they're just as much a part of the group still. You saw them both this past summer, actually! You end up living with Jaclyn, Betts, and Jamie (and Michelle, of course), and Joe and Zach are at your room fairly often. You still all meet up in the student center. Honestly, 90% of the group chat is just different people asking if anyone is there at random points in the day.

You still keep in touch with most of your close friends from high school. Caelyn ends up in Maine and you're going to watch her go from not having a place to finding her perfect group over the course of a semester. LeShawna goes to Dean and plans most of the get-togethers when you guys are all home. Kiaa's at UConn. Seriously, she never leaves Storrs. Lena ends up at Bay Path and you're honestly super salty that she managed to get a girlfriend in her first week at college and you're in your second year and single. You're happy for her, of course, but come on world!

And speaking of that part of you. I know right now you're in a dredge of self-hatred over your sexuality, but it all turns out fine. Honestly, almost all of your friends are on the spectrum to some extent. The first few labels you try out aren't going to feel right, but you'll find the one that does. You're out to almost everyone by the time you reach sophomore year, and it really goes much, much better than you'll ever expect (your favorite response is going to be Jerry's; "you gave me a lot of new stuff to look up").

This is getting long, so I guess it's time for me to say my goodbyes. I hope this letter gave you some insight into the things that await you in your future. Right now, you probably don't even really know what depression and anxiety are or how they work, but I promise that you can fight your way through them. That isn't to say that they won't come back sometimes or that you won't have to fend them off over and over, but it's going to get easier to breathe. And really, it's okay to step back and unplug. Put the computer down and ask GT for some extra help with biology. Turn off your phone and ask one of the math teachers to tutor you in Algebra 2. And please, please, study for the AP Stat test, or else you'll end up in a college math class learning PEMDAS again.

You will recover from sophomore year, younger me. You will make it to graduation, and nearly at the top of your class too (you share the third spot with Ashley and you're not even upset about it; friendly competition and all that).

Life gets better, younger me.

Love,

Your Future Self

And to the reader: I hope you never need to, but if you are considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. I promise better things will come in the future if you are willing to wait out this low period.