College Life: A Letter To My Freshman Year Self

Our college columnist, Hillary Reisberg, is about to graduate and move on to her next big adventure. We’ll miss her, but we know she’s destines for great things. This is her last column, so please help us say goodbye.

A friend recently told me that as an incoming college freshman, she thought that “college was going to be all eating Indian food in the dorms.” What does this mean? Frankly, I’m not really sure, but it speaks to the fact that when we come into college, we don’t really have a clue what to expect. As we begin to look back, chicken tikka didn’t have much to do with our experience – but as we started to think about our one-time expectations, we recognized how off-base we had been about so many things four years ago.

With graduation looming frighteningly close, I’m taking the occassion, before it’s too late, to give it a last shot at the college advice gig: I’m writing a letter to my freshman year self.

Dear Self (crap, this is weird already),

First of all, stop pretending you’re not naive. You turned 18 six weeks ago, and it’s both normal and to be expected that you haven’t had all the life experience of jaded 22-year-olds who have been living without their parents for over three years already.

Why? Because although you’re trying to look cool, faking it is painfully obvious, and it makes you seem even more naive. Own your youthfulness, and it will be endearing. The people who come to college never having smoked pot, or as virgins, are well more in the majority than you think. So stop acting like you’ve been around the block, and let your tender teenagerdom guide you. It’s not only the truth, it’s also far less annoying.

Being underage is not that bad. The fake I.D. thing is annoying, and illegal, of course, but the 21+ crowd thinks no less of you when you get rejected from a club. Someday, people will nag you to pick up the beer on the way over, so be happy that for now, you don’t have to lug a sixpack of Coors Light when people invite you over.

In all likelihood, your feelings about the antics that some people engage in – illicit, immoral, or even just strange – will become muted with time. You will become, in a sense, jaded to this kind of thing. Numbed to the shock you experienced the first time you saw someone do something you deemed insane.. So keep your head on your shoulders, realize college is nuts, and just enjoy the show. At the same time, don’t succumb to peer pressure. Just because it seems like everyone’s doing something, it doesn’t mean you should. But you were never the type to jump off a bridge, even if everyone else did, so I’m not all that worried on this front.

Pay attention in class. This is simply a good use of your time. Yes, you are hungover, and yes, you have plans to make, and omg crazy stories from last night to recap, but if you don’t pay attention now, you will have to study later. And it’s going to suck. And that bitch in your study group will not send you the notes until sunrise on the day of the exam (bitch, you know who you are, and yes, I am still resentful).

Don’t tell anyone how hungover you are. It gets old. Fast. Very fast.

I’m not going to pull some sappy shit now, like “live every day like it’s your last,” because, let’s be fair, you’re not going to do that. But don’t be so nervous about everything, have fun, speak up for yourself, and worry a little less about the future. It’s going to be fine.


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