Dear Younger Me

Dear younger me,

I’ve been going to William Paterson for four and a half years now. My experience has been a whirlwind involving joy, anxiety, pride, accomplishment, and depression. I've experienced highs and lows. I’ve had major setbacks, but I always bounced back. When I realized I had to stay another semester, I felt myself falling into a serious depression. I didn’t graduate on time with my friends, and I felt like I was left behind.  

My goal had always been to graduate in four years. Not meeting that goal left me feeling like a failure. I quickly saw my motivation and diligence decreasing. I no longer felt like the success story within my immediate family. I felt like I had let my parents down. For years, I had succumbed to so much pressure that I never emphasized the quality of my work. I emphasized the timelines. It left me feeling empty. I felt like I missed the full college experience because my desire was to graduate on time. No matter how long it takes me I need to learn to run it well. Timelines and comparison are the thieves of joy.

Making these unrealistic expectations will only lead to failure, anxiety, and depression. You will never feel like you are fully accomplished if you continue to align yourself with society’s standards. These #goals and hasty timelines are hard to achieve. Set your own goals according to your goals and priorities. Don’t rush your experience by trying to be on everyone’s level. You are unique. Treat ya self that way. These were motivational talks that I had to give myself in order to get by. This was the advice I wish I had heard when I was younger.

Here are the seven things I would say to my younger self, titled by various songs.

Dear younger me,

“Don’t Stop Believin'." Run your race, well beloved. Don’t worry about when you’ll finish college. The importance of college isn’t necessarily when you finish, but how you finish. Finish strong, and stay on top of your assignments. Keep up with your grades, and don’t let one bad semester affect your college career.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Don’t overthink. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have a tendency to overthink circumstances and worry about the future. For four and a half years, I have allowed these disruptive and burdensome thoughts to eat away at me. They’ve managed to take over my mind and steer me away from my goals. Over the past year, I’ve learned to let it go. I accept it, and then I move on. I can’t let one problem hold me down.

“You Better (Net)Work”. Get involved. Boy, I wish someone had told me to attend more networking events. I never saw the importance of it until my senior year. I was foolish to believe that the various networking events my school hosted were irrelevant to my pursuits. My biggest regret was not staying committed to enough organizations. I wish I had better prepared myself for my future.

“Take it Easy, No Need to Hurry”. Take mental health days. Having a vigorous work ethic has been celebrated in my family. We work hard, and we work smart just to prove our diligence. Since entering college, I’ve learned that working hard nonstop will lead to a heavy and speedy downfall. For days on end, I would find myself overwhelmed and unable to cope with the pressure. Two years into my college career, I had discovered the saving grace, which were mental health days. Taking time to do nothing used to give me anxiety, but now it gives me peace. My mind is well rested, and chaos doesn’t surround me.

Treat yo self (optional). I love retail therapy. From food to interior decorations, my heart bursts anytime I swipe my card or see a package in the mail. Buying items is my reward system for keeping up with myself. Treating myself after finals or even after getting through an oral presentation boosts my mood, and it gives me the motivation to keep moving forward.

“What’s Wrong with Being Confident?” Do something that you’re confident and passionate about. I switched my major two times before I realized what I wanted to do in life. Making the switch from legal studies to political science made me anxious, and it filled me with doubt because I never had any prior experience with my current major. When I first got into college, I was undecided. I went to career advisement hoping I could be steered into the right direction, but I was looking for a box to be shoved into so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job. I wanted to be comfortable. I was wrongfully led to the communications department. A wasted semester later, I realized that Communications wasn’t my calling. I then switched to legal studies, and I couldn’t find my niche in there either. I never saw myself pursuing anything in the humanities, but a couple of classes proved that this was my passion. These were subjects that I had confidence in.

"LIVING MA BEST LIFEEE." Don’t worry about the naysayers in your life or who is constantly watching your every post and reporting it back to your family. You’ll get over it and so will your family, but don’t let them rob you of your joy and fun experiences. Seize the day and go out on adventures. Watch the sunrise once in a while. Go on a hike and be one with nature. Take a few road trips. Go to a paint and sip. Go see a play. There are things in your life that are temporary. Enjoy them while you can. Don’t let your circumstance be your limitation. LIVE YA BEST LIFE.

Take heed of these words. Keep them close to your heart and let them carry you through life. I did and now I’m in my last semester of college. I’ll be graduating this semester with two degrees in Political Science and Africana World Studies. Next year, I’ll be taking my LSAT and attending law school. I’m passionate about my goals and I can’t wait for what the future has in store. Be faithful. Stay committed to yourself. Keep moving forward. Strive.