An Open Letter to Freshman Girls in College Regarding College Boys

Dear Freshman Girls,

There are a few things you need to hear. I will not generalize all of you together because I know some of you will not face these issues. For those of you who don't, please be kind to those who do. It will be easy to judge, gossip, and outcast your friends that go through changes while you're in college, but what you probably won't realize in those moments is that the stronger approach would be to support them even if you don't agree with their actions. At this point, very few of you will know what category you fall under (whether you're lucky or unlucky). I assume you all have an idea of the type of person you want to be in college, as well as after you graduate. I'm sorry to inform you that it's unlikely you will become exactly who you want to. In saying that, I don't mean you won't accomplish your goals, make friends, be happy, play sports, join clubs, etc. I just mean that life happens, and it will change you. It will change who you are without you being able to stop it, but I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. It is what makes us all unique. 

On that note, I want you all to stay with me because you don't know what is going to happen in the next four years. I would love if everything I was getting ready to say was irrelevant to all of you, but I am not naive enough to believe that. You shouldn't be either. Take it from someone who knows...from someone who has been through it. Don't disregard this letter. My hope is that it prevents you from making the same mistakes I did, or in the very least, give you an idea of how to handle them better than I did. I don't ever want any of you to feel alone. You are never alone. If no one else admits to doing the same stupid things you do, know that I will. I'll be here for you no matter what. Refer to this letter when you seek guidance or support. 

I want to start with what is on all your minds: college boys – new, exciting, attractive college boys. I know you have walked through this campus and peered up at them with admiration. I know you have walked through this campus and looked at the other, maybe older, girls with wonder. You have probably looked at their clothes, hair, makeup, body, what sports they played, etc., taking note of what you need to do to be someone in this place. You want to know what you have to do to be wanted and known. These may be things you have done subconsciously without even realizing it, but I guarantee you have done it. You have waited years to have the opportunity to be the cheer captain, the student council president, the volleyball star, the quarterback's girlfriend, a member of an important club, or maybe many of these things combined. Now, it is finally time for you to become those things, but do not be fooled by the stereotypes. Nothing is what it seems.

The point of this letter is not for me to tell you not to do it, because I know you will anyway. However, I am going to warn you. Other people will warn you about it, too. They'll tell you it's a bad decision. They'll tell you he only wants one thing. They'll tell you it'll ruin your reputation. They'll tell you there are health risks like disease and pregnancy. All those warnings carry merit, but there are so many things they don't warn you about. They leave out the severity and details in their warnings. They don't tell you the things that will really help you – the things that will really make you question your decision when you're faced with it. You're lucky, though, because I'm going to tell you. I'm going to tell you because I wish someone would have told me.

You are going to think you're prepared. They'll warn you that he only wants one thing. You'll know that is the truth because he's older than you, so what else could he see in you that he couldn't find in someone his own age? You will know that you are an easy target in the college scene, and perhaps at his fraternity’s party on Friday night. You will prepare yourself not to care about him, either. You will convince yourself that you're okay with him only wanting one thing.  You will repeat the not caring about him step over and over until you feel you've built your walls high enough. As you sit there staring at your phone with his message pulled up, you'll question why you want to do this knowing all those things. You may not have an answer other than because you want to. You will want to because you've never felt wanted like that. You'll want to because this is going to be a new experience. You'll want to because he's older and experienced and hot, and he actually noticed you. You'll want to because you feel like it'll give you power, maybe even popularity on campus.  Those wants aren't wrong, but I am here to tell you that you will not be prepared. 

There are three major things you are not going to realize at this point in the decision-making process. They likely won't even cross your mind. First, you are going to care. No matter how much you convince yourself that you're strong enough to ward off his charm from your heart, you aren't. These boys have the upper hand on you. They've had time to practice their way with words on plenty of other girls before you. They know that they are now your weakness. They know that you lack knowledge on the subject in general, being a new and inexperienced college student. You will lose this battle every time, if you decide to fight it. It will be easy for him to make you think he cares. He will come up to you on campus, at the library, at the fraternity party. He will compliment you. He will be sweet to you. He'll make you feel special, wanted, and beautiful. It'll be so easy because no one has ever made you feel that way before. You're going to care, even if you don't want to.  You're going to get attached, even if you don't want to.  The thing you need to prepare yourself for isn't a lack of care or emotion; the thing you need to prepare yourself for is to care and feel emotion while having the ability to hide it, because that’s what you're going to have to do. Learn how to play it cool, how to seem careless and emotionless, even when you aren't. It'll help with more than just this. 

The second thing you aren't going to realize is that he and the senior girl you've befriended to be your mentor – and there will be one – are both leaving. This thought will cross your mind, and when you ask your friends what you should do, they'll warn you not to do it because he will be leaving in a few months. He will soon be moving on to an entirely different chapter of his life, that being real life: a career, or perhaps graduate school. No one tells you what that will do to you, though.  You see, once you make the decision, he will always mean something to you. No matter what, he will always be a part of your history and he will always hold a special place in your heart. This place will most likely be a weak spot. You see there is a correlation between that connection and the fact that they are both leaving. The last week of classes will be hell. You will want to cry the entire week, even though you're supposed to be excited for summer. You will watch the seniors do everything for the last time, and you will physically feel sick. You'll dress really cute for graduation, if you decide to go, in hopes he will notice you because at this point he'll have stopped talking to you. He may text you occasionally, but he won't text you every day. Prepare yourself to feel those things because it'll be too late to take back what you've done. Prepare yourself for the summer. This mess won't be over, yet. 

The third thing you aren't going to grasp at this point is what it means to ruin your reputation. I assume you're all smart enough to understand that means giving yourself a bad title or name, but there is so much more to it than just that. No one explains to you what else goes when your reputation does. First, you're going to lose a lot of friends. Honestly, they probably weren't great friends to begin with, so you're probably better off. In saying that, it is still going to be hard to lose them. You will feel alone and scared. At this point, everyone on campus has established their core friend group. It will factor into how your summer goes. Second, you will lose a lot of respect. In a small, liberal arts college, word spreads fast to everyone, even people who may not know who you are. It will make you feel terrible about yourself. Prepare yourself for that disappointment. In addition to this, other guys will lose respect for you. They will view you as an easy target now, so be prepared to resist temptation. If you don't, things will only get worse. Third, there will be a lot of gossip and rumors. The upperclassmen girls will not like you. They may be rude to you at parties or try to ruin your recruitment experience because of what they’ve heard. They'll be jealous because they will miss getting that attention and being young and dumb. As silly as that sounds, you'll miss it eventually, too. Make sure your skin is thick because words can cause deadly wounds, if you let them.  

Summer is supposed to be a relaxing period to reward yourself for surviving the first year of college. In some ways, it might be. I doubt it will be anything like you thought it would be at the very beginning of the year. The friends you thought you would spend time with won't be there to make memories with. You'll have a lot of time to reflect on your decisions, which in a way will be good. Use this time to make yourself into a better person. Go back to campus in the fall and prove to all the people who doubted you that your decisions don't define you. The worst part of summer is still going to be him. You will know he is leaving, but you will jump at every opportunity to talk to him. Don't get your hopes up again. Accept it for what it is.

As much as I wish I could say the issue ends with him moving on to the next chapter of his life and you going back to college, I can't. He will contact you every time he comes to visit campus, and even though you've learned a lot about life, yourself, etc. since the first time, you'll still respond and maybe even agree to see him. You'll do it because you won't be able to let go. You'll get your hopes up every time and be devastated every time he leaves again. You won't be surprised after the first few times, and those feelings will almost become natural. When he leaves, you'll wonder about him. You'll follow him through social media. You'll hope he is happy and doing well, but most of all, you will miss him. No guy will compare to him, so don't try. Wait it out. Eventually, you will see the damage you've been causing in your life, and you will let him go. If you don't wait for that realization, you'll hurt a lot of people.  

I will leave you with these last sentiments. There is a lot more to life than college boys. There is a lot more to college than boys in general. Focus on those other aspects, the things that will determine who you will be for the rest of your life. When you make a mistake, do not let it define you. Keep pushing through all the negativity. Do not ever give up even when it seems like a better choice than continuing. 

With care,

A Former College Freshman Girl