Dear First-Year Hanh,
You made it. You grinded all through high school, you did the work, you took the tests, you got the scores you wanted. You made it.
Where do you go from here?
I can’t answer that. I’m just starting to figure out life myself.
But I can offer you some advice, advice that I learned not through sweat and blood and tears but through experience. Years of hard-earned experience. Of constantly pushing myself. Of trying and failing.
Yes, you will fail.
It’s not how you fail that determines the outcome but how you get back up again, dust yourself off, and put the pieces back together.
- Don’t worry about fitting in your first semester
The confident first years on campus? Fake. With their huge friend groups and perfectly planned schedules? It’s a front.
Even if it is not a front, don't compare yourself to them.
We’re all adjusting to life away from home, adjusting to the new and exciting changes that college brings us.
Don’t worry about having a perfect first day, first week, or even first semester of college.
- Speaking of home, talk to your mom
You probably thought moving away was the best thing ever but it’s only after living under the same roof for a year and a half that you will begin to tease apart the complexity of your relationship.
- Don’t be afraid to make friends
Don’t worry about clicking with your roommate. Don’t worry about not having friends your first semester. Don’t force the friendships. You’ll meet people later on. Incredible, supportive people who truly cherish you for you who you are.
Don’t be too hung up on the friends you lost, either. Life happens. People drift apart. When the dust settles and text messages cease, you’ll find the friends you were meant to have. Not the friends you wanted to have.
- Don’t spend all your Friday nights at work or studying in your room
You live in San Francisco. The city is your playground. Golden Gate Park is practically in your backyard. Explore the city. Find your favorite haunts, cafes, and storefronts.
- Make an effort to connect with your professors
They are incredible people who want you to succeed. Do not be afraid of going to office hours because your Professor will think you are stupid. You are independent and you are capable. That doesn’t mean you should struggle on your own. Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and ask for help.
I write this to you in the final weeks of my penultimate semester as a college student. I write this from my childhood bedroom, the one you were so eager to get away from.
I write this with a group of wonderful, supportive, caring friends. The ones that I know I can rely on. The ones that I chose who chose me back.
I write this from home, knowing that I will move back to the city I have dreamed of living in. That I have fallen in love with.
I write this not knowing where life will take me. With the uncertainty of the future.
You have come so far since the terrified, excited person you were three years ago. You have grown and loved and cried and lived.
If I had the chance, I would do it all over again, and I hope you chose to do so as well.
Lots of love,