A Letter to My Awkward, College-Bound 18-Year-Old Self

Rebecca Stokes Love & Learn

becca I'm in the middle, freaking out

Dear Becca,

You're 18 and headed down South for college. You're going to make some amazing friends and some terrible decisions. You're going to feel more alone and more exhilarated than you have ever felt before. It's going to be awesome, and it's going to be awful, and you are going to be okay. Promise.

Do me a favor and be kinder to yourself, okay? Sure, your hair will "always grow back," but that doesn't mean bleaching it white or a hideous shade we will always call "corpse rot brown" is a good idea. While we're talking, please burn those white lace stretch pants you bought and most of your other clothes. Stop trying to be someone you aren't.

You might not believe it, but I'm here to tell you that if you stop obsessing about your body right now, you'll save yourself hundreds of hours of time. Are you happy? Are you healthy? Good. Let's go hang out with the people we love instead of worrying if you're the heaviest girl in the room.

Study for math. Study for chemistry. Ask questions. Admit you don't know something. Fail on your own terms -- not because you're too embarrassed to bother getting an Add/Drop slip signed. Don't be afraid to speak up when you have something to say. No one will think less of you.

Don't hide behind a wall of ice because you're shy. It's much, much better to have real friends than it is to have throngs of people who "think you're cool." If you let people in, the world isn't going to end. It might actually start.

Kiss him. What is the matter with you? Kiss him! He's right there, and you're right there, and you are 18 and beautiful and he's got long floppy hair and a perfect shy grin and this moment will never happen again. Kiss him, or 12 years later you will regret having missed the chance all because you were afraid.

becca

Wear a coat, wear socks too, I mean it! Get some sleep and get up before noon. Don't walk alone at night. Go to the doctor when you're sick, and maybe eat something other than dining hall pizza and soft serve. Just, like, once in a while. Take care of you. Because you're wonderful. 

Be brave. Say hello first. Go to the party. Admit you were the one who puked on that guy's coat. Dance as much as you want and don't worry about what it looks like. Be a joiner. Make mistakes you won't learn from with wild abandon. Be yourself, and if they don't like it, it doesn't matter. Truly, and hear me now, it doesn't matter.

Take the big risk, you nerd. Don't give up. Don't fall into a routine because it feels safe. Don't settle for anything. Call your friends more. Tell them how much they matter. Say it regularly even if they roll their eyes at you. Live your life. If you're scared, you're about to do something amazing. And keep writing. Surprisingly, the whole writing thing kind of works out.

Yours in Time Travel,

30-Year-Old Becca

 

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