Late last night, I was looking through my computer and found some old Word documents that hadn’t been looked at in ages. In particular, I took a look at a makeshift journal I had created during my freshman year of college, since I had left my paper journal at home and was looking for a way to vent about my feelings in the pre-blogging stage of my life. I was astounded to read some of the things I had written in this journal…I sounded so lonely and dejected. Looking back, I am well aware of the fact that I wasn’t at my happiest during this time, however reading the things my 18 and 19 year old self had to say was a bit of punch to the gut…I couldn’t believe this is the life I was living. I’ve grown so much in the past four years, and for that I am incredibly thankful. I hardly recognize the girl I was when I started at Morris and that is most definitely a good thing. However, I think it’s worth looking back to see how far I’ve come. After all, that is in the true spirit of the purpose I had in creating this blog.
After reading a particularly raw entry from January 2012 where I simply stated how lonely I was, I decided to give my 18 year old self a pep talk. The below letter is the result:
Dear 18 year old Britta,
You’re going through a bit of a rough time here. You were so excited to go to college and now you’re there. You’re halfway through your freshman year, which is crazy (but believe me, you’ll think it’s even crazier when senior year rolls around). You finally have a boyfriend (isn’t that what you’ve been dreaming of your whole life?) and you’ve met a lot of fun people at Morris. Despite all that, you’re hurting. You feel that you shouldn’t be, given your circumstances, but you are and you know it. You know you’re an introvert and you know that you have trouble connecting with people because of that, but it just sucks that these people you met at the beginning of the year and who you were so excited about getting to know, aren’t connecting with you in the way you’d hoped. You like them, you really do. You think they’re awesome people. You just don’t feel wholly comfortable with them in a way that you really can’t explain. You love your boyfriend and all, but you also feel a little weird about that whole relationship too (hint–it’s because you love him for the wrong reasons). It’s this lack of connection that is causing all this hurt. You find yourself wondering if you’re ever going to find lasting relationships in college; to make up for this, you’re trying to hold on to high school friends who you clearly aren’t connecting with anymore and this boyfriend who is just a little too different from you to make for a healthy working relationship. You fear it will all slip away eventually, and you’ll be left with nothing.
I’m here to tell you, 18 year old Britta, that it is all slipping away. You may be surprised to here this, but that is all for the best.You will live a more enriching life because of it. You’re going to find your place in Morris and you’re going to love it. In about a year and a half, you’ll start on this whole new journey of self discovery and you’re going to be 110% better because of it. The first step, dear Britta, will be ditching the boy and believe me, that wont be easy for you. You will spend a good forty-eight hours sobbing your guts out about that. You will feel like your world is falling a part and then some, but eventually, you’ll realize that the boy wasn’t worth having and that you’re better off without him. You’ll feel so empowered. You’ll call yourself a strong independent woman, and you’ll mean it. Around this time, you’ll meet the friends you were beginning to wonder if you’d ever find here. You’ll develop stronger relationships with the few high school friends whom you’ll want to keep in your life and let go of those who are taking up too much space in your small, introverted world. With the help of these people whom you’ll grow to love to pieces, you’ll find a part of yourself that you never knew you had and you will love it. You will feel a type of freedom you never knew existed within you and you will thrive.
That’s not to say that it’ll be all easy, Britta. You’ll also go through a period of complete and utter darkness. You will be afraid. You will feel helpless and you will cry…a lot. You will go to places in the dark recesses of your mind that you never knew existed and you will cower in utter terror. You will get through that though, Britta, and you will be stronger because of it. You will fight the darkness to come out on top. Remember those friends I talked about in the last paragraph? Well, along with your family and your counselor (yes, Britta, yes, you do go to counseling, and believe me…it wasn’t easy getting there), they end up being a great help. They become a support system you didn’t even know was possible for you to have.
I don’t want to give everything away, Britta, but you will eventually find yourself in a pretty bad ass internship in Washington D.C. You will be scared half to death to fly across the country by yourself and plop yourself down in this entirely new place that you’ve only been to once before when you were thirteen, but it will be worth it. You will meet some amazing people (your D.C. roommates will forever hold a special place in your heart), you will experience so many amazing things, and you will learn so much about yourself, which is something you will never take for granted.
Britta, here’s a little tidbit of information that you might find useful: You will reach a point in your life where you will discover something new about yourself on a daily basis. It will be such an adventure. Life certainly wont be a piece of cake…you will still struggle with social anxiety. You will still struggle with anxiety in general. Some days you will feel like giving up and burrowing into a hole where all the fear that exists in this world wont get to you. But then you’ll remember that the only thing that is keeping you from going is the fear within yourself. You will be confident, more confident than you ever thought was possible. You will find something within yourself that is more powerful than you ever imagined…it is the recognition that you can do something for this world, regardless of how small that something is.
You’re feeling a bit down right now, 18 year old Britta. I’m here to tell you that life wont get easier. In fact, when you open your eyes to the world you’re living in and the person you want to be within that world, it will only get harder. But gosh, Britta, it will be so much more rewarding and you will reap so much satisfaction from that.
You’re not ready to move on yet, Britta, but you will soon. You thought the journey began once you got to college. Oh honey, the truth is, the journey hasn’t begun at all. It will only begin when you are ready to change the person within yourself.
With the kindest of regards,
A Happier, Healthier, Twenty-One Year Old YOU