A letter to my old self: Thinking of college in post

Photo courtesy of Alex Dubé, Student Publications

Dear Younger Self,

I hope this letter finds you well. You look exuberant, inquisitive and petrified all at the same time, and I cannot blame you. College is a big step, but so was taking a gap year for hockey in Connecticut. I commend you for taking that leap and for trying to keep the dream alive. The good news is that club hockey in the South is alive, well and growing fast. I know you’re not thrilled to stay in-state, but you will come to love it here.

First of all, you should not take anyone you meet at college for granted. Being among 3,250 incoming students in a school of 15,000 is not as monumental as it sounds. I’ve lost count of the amount of small-world moments I’ve encountered here. You never know when you’ll run into someone again, and seeing how they grow alongside you or without you in college is fascinating.

Meet as many people as you possibly can through your involvements. The diverse perspectives from people with all different backgrounds facilitates growth in unprecedented ways. Sure, knowledge in the classroom is important, but nothing trumps open-mindedness, collaboration and competency in the real world.

That being said, college is nothing short of a reality check. Your honor student status will be slipping through your grasp the moment you step foot into the classroom. You will never be the smartest person in the room, but embrace that. Growth rarely comes without asking for help.

No matter how difficult school becomes, never let it consume your passions or your personality. You should not compromise the things that you love to do. You have worked hard to become a well-rounded student, so ensure you continue to prioritize other outlets away from school. Find something that gets you
out of bed every day.

Get involved in student organizations but be wary to avoid making yourself overwhelmed. You know how burnout feels so I caution you to save yourself, especially down the road when leadership roles enter the conversation. Also, do not succumb to the toxic organizational culture that may plague other students. Focus on bettering yourself while supporting those around you.

Patience is a virtue that I recommend learning. Avoid small aggravations as their small-but-mighty character can easily penetrate your skin. 

The few guarantees in life are Atlanta traffic, unrealistic expectations from professors and construction. These minor inconveniences are not worth your attention. 

Account for these factors and work on being more punctual when meeting with others, as it will make a huge difference in your relationships. 

When it comes to work, replace procrastination with doing and speaking with intentional thinking.

Admittedly, I’m writing this letter right after an exam that I started cramming for last night. My schedule says that I am in class for another 20 minutes, but my four hours of sleep said otherwise. I did not start writing this until after the deadline. None of these things sound cool nor are they productive, so do not make speaking of these situations a habit. Misery and misfortune should never be a competition or a brag.

Your four years here at Tech will be difficult, but your perseverance is rewarded. 

I know how outlandish leadership sounds for you at this moment, but as it turns out, you’re not too shabby. Also, do not be afraid to put yourself out there, even with the recent events in your life. It’s crazy to think that the only reason that I’m in this section editor position now is because you followed your heart eight years ago. I’m sorry to hear that things did not work out with her four years later, but keep your chin up — I promise you’ll find what you’re
looking for soon enough.

Look where journalism has taken you thus far. You had the opportunity to discover your passions and grow your creative mind, all while working alongside some of your best friends from high school. 

When this opportunity arises again, take it and make the most out of every moment. It will be one of your most trying yet fulfilling experiences at Tech. Speaking of fulfilling, find your adventurous side. Taking risks outside your comfort zone will teach you resilience and you may even discover newfound passions. 

Study abroad to travel more and gain exposure to different cultures. Make a sizable dent on the incredibly diverse food scene in Atlanta and try new cuisines. Take road trips to new places and explore nature’s beauty that surrounds you everywhere. Every day is another day in paradise.

Above all, it’s the little things that mean the most. Those moments that mean nothing to strangers when retold, but mean everything to you. Sure, you will have plenty of stories to tell years later, but there is nothing quite like being here. Make a lasting impact at Tech, just as it will have on you.

My final piece of advice to you is to eat your own words. 

Inspecting your last opinion piece before moving on from high school, where you quote Ferris Bueller, is ironic in that you have not stopped to look around even once since you’ve entered Tech. 

This is me stopping to look around for you. One day, you’ll wake up and look back on your time spent in grade school and college just to realize that it was all a blur.

I’m here to tell you that there exists such a thing as overinvolvement. Countless hours with print newspapers and 3D printing, hockey games and photographing games, undergraduate research and research journals, club meetings and meeting strangers and the plethora of friends made along the way — it all disappears. Do not take any of your experiences for granted and remember every role you played. In the blink of an eye, you will graduate from the Institute and never look back.


An older, wiser You