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With less than 11 days left of my undergraduate career, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on the last 3 years. Comparing my current self to who I was at the start of college has been super emotional. Coming from a small beach town in South, Florida to a huge, southern football school was intimidating and such a big step for me. I was naive to everything I would soon learn and experience within a span of 3 short years. That being said, here’s a letter to my younger, freshman-year self:


Dear Ava,

I know you’re terrified about starting college. You’re going into this knowing absolutely no one and you already miss your best friends from home. But don’t worry; within a week of you being at school, you are going to meet some of your best friends that you will have in college. You are going to try new things and meet a ton of new people. Try to remember to stay true to who you are. Remember your creative, free-spirited self and don’t let others change how you express yourself. You are going to find people who accept you for who you really are and share experiences with them that will be engraved in your mind forever. You will have the most fun you have ever had, experiencing true independence for the first time. And of course, because of that, you will get in trouble and have to face hard life lessons. At some points, you are going to want to transfer. Times will be incredibly tough, but you will get through it and continue to make core memories. But there will still be some rough times when all you want to do is go home and hug your mom. You’re going to miss your dog… a lot. You’re going to cry over small things just because you are homesick. Some of your biggest heartbreaks will come from the people you loved and trusted the most, but in the end, you will see it was necessary for your personal growth. Let experiences, relationships and feelings ebb and flow. You will get caught up in trying to control scenarios that you inevitably have no control over. Spend more time on things you actually enjoy and create memories that will last. I want you to really capture moments for what they are. Take a second to think about how happy you are in each moment, because these years will fly by. The biggest lesson you will learn in these years is how crucial it is to be okay with being alone. College is a time when people can sometimes be extremely selfish and lack empathy. It’s times like these when you will learn the importance of being your own #1 supporter. You will rediscover your love for reading, writing and art. You will spend many nights alone—listening to A LOT of Liability by Lorde--but grow to appreciate those quiet moments where you can really connect with yourself; It is going to force you to grow into a stronger woman and person. You will begin to set your focus on what really matters and pursue others who cherish your same ideas and morals. In the end, you will leave with a few core friendships, an abundance of memories and a greater appreciation for the person you have become.   

As we come to an end in our college career, I cannot be prouder of my younger self for all we endured in these last 3 years. So much love, and so much heartbreak. So many memories I will always cherish, yet so many life lessons I have gone through to see brighter days. And if I reflected back on everything, I would not change a thing. My undergraduate experience was everything I could ever hope for and more. I can’t wait to see what we do next. 




Ava Johnson

Alabama '21

My name is Ava Johnson and I am from Jupiter, Florida. I am currently a junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in Anthropology, with a minor in Psychology and Computer Science! I really enjoy being outside, learning all about space, and meeting new people.
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