Midway through my first semester of senior year and trudging through midterms in an all-too-familiar-all-nighter fashion, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. Nostalgic of all my firsts in college now that I’m slowly but surely experiencing my “lasts” as a senior. In high school, one of our traditions was writing ourselves a letter in freshman year to be opened 100 days before graduation in senior year, and I can’t help but wonder what that letter would say if I had continued that tradition in college.
But there are so many things I wish I could tell my anxious freshman year self now. I can’t help but want to tell her everything is going to work out the way it’s supposed to, that even though over the next three years she’s about to endure some of the hardest challenges she’ll face thus far, she’ll still be happy, she’ll have fond memories to look back on and she’ll have a killer support system to make even the hard times not seem so scary. As cliché as it sounds, it truly is the best and worst of times.
So, younger me, remember, you are loved, trust yourself, and know you are so much stronger than you think. I am so proud of how far we’ve come.
Here are some things I’d tell my anxious younger self if I were to do it all over again:
Continue to do the things you enjoy
I found myself overwhelmed my freshman year and I had drastically different priorities. It wasn’t really until my sophomore and junior year that I carved out time to myself to do things that I’ve always liked to do. During my couped-up junior year (mainly due to COVID) I made time in my schedule to go for drives at least once a week to destress and get outside. Those drives were time allotted for me to have shower thoughts and karaoke sessions, and they really kept me from going stir crazy. Even if it’s a club you enjoy or activity as simple as reading for pleasure, stick with it and give yourself time to do those things.
Don’t let FOMO rule your life
For the longest time, FOMO affected me tremendously and I honestly let in dictate a lot of what I did. I was self-conscious about not taking part in things, so I would go to parties I didn’t want to be at, and I would crumble if I missed anything. My mindset has changed over the years along with my friend groups, I just wish I could have told myself sooner not to worry about social appearances and missing out.
Let go of things you can’t control
Taylor Sageman, a Her Campus sister at CWU says it best: let it go. Things are going to work out the way they’re supposed to. Learn to roll with the punches.
Thumbtacks are probably your best bet
When it comes to hanging posters, pictures, etc., thumbtacks are reliable. I’ve dealt with blue oil stains on walls from poster putty, and a lot of the Command poster tape I’ve used has either not worked or worked so well that chunks of the wall come with it upon removal. Thumbtacks, although advertised to do the most damage to your dorm walls, really leave the least damage in my experience.
Watch your bank account
It might seem like an obvious one, but without fail, I continuously spend more money than I realize. Of course, spend where you want and treat yourself, but it doesn’t hurt to be more aware of what you’re spending.
Keep your eye out for opportunities
They are everywhere. There are limitless opportunities all around, so keep your eye out. My freshman year, looking out for opportunities got me an abroad experience in Rome, an internship my sophomore year, and an additional minor to my degree my junior year. There are opportunities for classes, career paths, networking, trying new things, etc. They might just come knocking at your door, so be ready for them.
Establish a bit of a routine for yourself
I thrive off of having some type of structure in my life and a routine gives me that. Doesn’t have to be exact but knowing what days I’m doing different things helped me stay organized and on track.
It’s okay to take a day off
Classes and the social scene in college can be a lot. It’s okay to take a day off every once in a while, especially when feeling the effects of burnout. Of course, not all the time, but a day off to yourself every so often is completely valid and can definitely be the recharge you need. Do what’s best for you.
Don’t be self-conscious doing things alone
I’ve struggled with this one a lot, but doing things alone is a normal part of the college experience. Whether it be eating meals alone or taking yourself on a solo adventure, it’s normal. Even if you want to do something like going to an art museum or seeing a movie and no one else seems to be on board, just do it anyway. Be safe and enjoy your own company.
Trust your gut
Whether it be situations or people, trust your gut especially when the vibes are just not there. Leave the bad vibes behind, it’ll save you a lot of trouble.
It’s okay to ask for help
The stigma surrounding mental health and reaching out for help has kept so many people fighting their battles alone. You are not alone, you are loved, and reaching out for help (whether from friends or family, the counseling center or someone else) can truly make such a difference. The Counseling Center is such a great resource on Loyola’s campus, and I truly don’t think it’s talked about enough. Talking through issues I’ve had during my college years, with friends, family, and counselors has helped me work through some difficult times with ease.
The first guy you meet probably isn’t your soulmate
Coming from an all-girls Catholic high school, the male species was completely foreign to me when I started college. With that said, I was incredibly naïve and embarrassingly boy crazy over the little attention I got my first year of college. My greatest advice in this department, make sure you and the person you are interested in are on the same page about what you want. And remember, it’s okay if you want different things. If your wants/needs don’t align, it’s better to just move on.
Find a creative outlet for yourself (art, music, cooking, writing, etc.) or even just spice up your semester with some creative ideas. You don’t always need to go out to have fun. My freshman year I planned a scavenger hunt in one of the residence halls and I took part in a game of assassins (with water guns), both of which are some of my favorite memories.
Remember to reach out
Meeting so many new people at college and even the workload from courses can be extremely overwhelming and quite frankly a huge distraction from remembering to keep in touch with your support system at home. I wish I was better about reaching out to my support system at home, as I’ve found myself sometimes going months without talking to some of my closest friends simply because life gets busy.
As cliché as it sounds, you’re going to want to look back on your college years. Capture some of those memories when you can.
Enjoy college. It is one of the most unique and special times in your life. Take some time and reflect on your college experience so far. It’s never to late to do some of the things listed above. Save fun, be safe, and enjoy it!