Dear Class of 2021,
Very soon, you will embark on the next big journey of your life: college. Or some of you might go into the military, or into the work force, or maybe you haven't quite decided yet-- that's okay too. Contrary to what most adults tell us, you don't have to have your life all figured out. I can promise you that most adults don't have their lives all figured out. Unfortunately, our society and our families tend to put an unfair pressure on us that we have to be better and do better than what they did. We have to somehow fix the mistakes they've made. That we are in charge of the future. For someone who's only eighteen years old, that's a pretty tall order.
Now I'm not saying that you don't have the power to change the world-- you do. And if that's the path you choose to follow then do it. But if your still not sure what your calling is, or what you might want to pursue as a job, take a deep breath and relax. That's what college is for. It's to help expose you to different ideas and beliefs and to ask you to think critically about your own ideas and beliefs. Yes your beliefs will most likely be challenged, but ultimately it will make you think-- and if you choose to-- to stand up for your beliefs.
It's important when your deciding on which college to attend, that you choose one where you will not be ridiculed, or where your physical or mental health will not be compromised. By this point, most of you have already chosen where you will go, but just remember that if you don't feel comfortable you have to speak up for yourself. There is surely a place that fits you out there if you choice to leave, and it's okay to need to leave.
Unlike what most people tell you or what is portrayed in movies, college is not always going to be a magical time of discovery and friendships. You will be stressed, possibly to the point of a mental breakdown, or two, or three. You will make friends, and you will lose friends. You'll probably even lose yourself at one point, but don't be alarmed. There will be people there to help pick you up, and help you find yourself again. And you'll most likely discover that the person who emerges is a better version of you. You will maybe fall in and out of love. Or you might not find love at all. Don't limit yourself to needing to find "the one" before you graduate. You still have your whole life ahead of you. It will happen when you least expect it, trust me. You will experience many things that you haven't before, and you will be in situations that you haven't had to deal with before. It's all a part of becoming an adult, and you will make it through stronger. Remember that.
My advice to you as a college senior is to step out of your comfort zone and do or try (safe) things you may have never done before. For example, if you were really quiet in high school, try to be more social. Believe me I know how hard it is to change, but when you decide to step out of your comfort zone and do something unexpected, you usually get rewarded. This is the time to discover who you really are and what you believe in. For eighteen years you've lived with your parents, or guardian, and you have done the things they wanted and believed what they believed. I'm not saying that you should try to change your parents' beliefs, or do something that would cause a rift, but do take some time to find out who you are, without the influence of your parents.
Remember this, You are going to make mistakes. You are going to be challenged academically and may not do as well as you wanted to in a class, or on a test. That does not mean you are dumb or a failure. You are going to be on an emotional roller coaster the whole four years. You will laugh and cry-- out of sadness and joy. College may not be the best four years of your life, and that's okay. But what I do hope happens, is that you find the person you want to be, you find the profession that you love, and you fight like hell for that vision. And don't EVER let anyone convince you different. It's your life, you can choose how you live it.
I wish you all the best.
-A college senior