If I have to be honest with everyone else, then first, I have to be honest with myself. And that starts by admitting that I don’t like this.
I don’t like that I have nothing to do with the place I called home for four years anymore.
I do like the relief and freedom this offers to forge my own path, but this same freedom also terrifies me. I don’t always make the best decisions. What if the paths less traveled aren’t paths at all, but dead ends in disguise?
Let’s not get ahead of myself. If you are searching for answers to how your life is before, during and after university, then perhaps, you will find some clues in these letters.
Dear High School Graduate, You Need to Go Out and Conquer the World.
You really do. Don’t hold yourself back.
You won’t realize how full of energy and potential you were at eighteen, until you are twenty-eight and looking back at this moment with nostalgia.
Define what you want to do. You don’t need to write well-researched theses yet. Just two three lines of purpose will do. Do you want to be a scientist? A businessman? A media journalist? A superhero? Or none of them?
Do you simply crave spontaneity and adventure, or to create and get lost in imaginary worlds inside yours and others heads? Do you prefer goofing off and working, begrudgingly, to live and have fun?
Try to understand some of the things you can and want to be. And see how you can do that in reality. Then apply yourself accordingly.
Don’t give into peer pressure, or even pressure from your loved ones and go for a degree you aren’t comfortable with.
You don’t really know yourself yet. But at the age of eighteen, there’s no better time to start.
Dear Freshman, You Need to Start Making Friends and Learn the Basics of Adulting.
The most amazing thing about college is that you meet all kinds of people. Not all of them will be amazing. Some will be assholes, some will be two-faced, and some will be dumb. But you will find some kind people, too. Sooner than later, you will find your pack.
You are still young, so go crazy with your adventures. Go on trips, do random hangouts, ask out that crush and get into relationships.
But also be wary of stupid hormones and mood swings. Keep your ears to the ground and watch out for ECA activities and part-time work opportunities.
Bond with your seniors. Be wary of faculties, especially cranky ones and the ones looking to make examples out of smartasses. Be careful with your grades, because it’s a good test of your discipline, which will be handy when you have to start adulting full-time.
Dear Sophomore, It’s Okay to Fuck Up Everyone Once in a While. Pick Yourself Up and Go Give it Another Try.
To paraphrase Rocky Balboa, it’s not about how hard you hit, but how many hits you can take. By this point, you will get varying doses of reality. Some friendships, perhaps, will sour. Failure, or setbacks, you will see, are only yours alone to deal with. Your ambition, you will learn, needs to be tempered with wisdom, which can only come from experience. And there’s no shortcut to earning experience.
Work on becoming a better person. Be honest with yourself and with others. But most importantly, it’s not the end of the world. It never is.
You are a fighter. You are a twenty-something and you have survived this long. You need to learn how to survive till you are an eighty-something. And you do that, most of the times, by simply showing up.
It’s okay if you are depressed. But don’t stay in bed all day. Drag yourself out of your room. Go to classes. Talk to friends. If they value you, they will support you. If they make yourself scarce, then you will see that you were only a convenience for them, and thus better not entertained in your life.
Start building yourself up. Understand that not only life is precious, but it can also be fucking terrifying. It doesn’t terrify you like a Xenomorph does, but it does through with the passage of time. Don’t let your life pass you by.
Dear Junior, You are almost there. You are Good, but You can be Better.
Don’t be complacent. Keep working. Keep looking for deeper meaning, or more happiness. Whatever resonates with you more.
If you haven’t yet pulled yourself out of your spiral, then accept that it’s a part of your life.
That’s also another terrible truth of adulting. You live with the scars of your life, and keep silent about it.
You talk about it, once or twice, with your loved ones, but you can’t show them that you are still traumatized. You need to smile, joke and be focused on the here and now. You do this for both your sake and everyone else’s.
If you have done a lot by the time you end your junior year, then congrats. But don’t get a big head. Be grateful and be kind. You can always look out for yourself, but you don’t have to be a dick about it.
If you haven’t done much, then, well, you still have that one more year. What are you waiting for? You aren’t going to see these people again afterwards, or get to do things that only university students can do.
Live your life, young padawan. There is time yet to be a Jedi.
Dear Senior, You are Pretty Cool Now. You Also Need to Be Responsible.
You have a resume, you have skills, you know yourself and you also know a lot of people. And they know you too.
If you are beautiful, charming and talented, perhaps you are popular too!
You wield great power, Anakin Skywalker. But you must use it wisely, to deserve a seat on the Jedi Council.
Networking is a two way street. There will also be assholes, snakes and takers who will never give anything in return. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick it to others and leave them hanging when they count on you to deliver. If your juniors look up to you, then try to be the elder sibling they deserve. Pay more attention to your other stakeholders too, and understand what role you play in each others’ lives.
You can, of course, party, because you have some cash in your hands and have developed a taste for earthly pleasures by now. Feel free to do so.
Cherish these last few days of carefree lives, and brace yourselves for the tidal waves of responsibilities.
By now, you know a lot about who you are. Perhaps, you think you won’t ever change and there’s nothing more to learn.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Dear Fresh Graduate, it’s Okay to Stumble. It’s Okay to Feel like an Idiot.
Because, you will soon realize, that even after all these years, you have learned basically nothing about the real world and how life and people function in general.
Your struggle starts now. Embrace it.
Don’t hold out hope for rewards just now. This isn’t a video game, or your Instagram feed.
You keep your head down and work your ass off. You power through whatever shit life throws at you.
I am talking terrible interviews. Not getting your dream job. Seeing your friends get your dream job. Going through bad breakups. Being too broke to go on trips for a while, because you are spending your paychecks on traveling, eating and buying a million different things.
You will, I hope, realize how incredibly lucky you are to make it this far, and that you can’t count on that luck anymore to make it much further.
You have to make your own decisions now. You create your own luck.
It’s okay if you can’t be a Jedi. If you have to be a Sith, then do it. If you have to be a X-Wing pilot, then do that instead. Hell, go be Jabba the Hutt for all I care!
It’s your life, nerd. Take the bull by horns and start riding it.
Dear Myself, You are Pretty Good. Maybe Not as Great As You Would Like to Be. And You Know What? That’s Completely Okay.
Yes. It is. It’s completely okay to be, in terms of results, average.
Forget the stories you have told yourself. Forget your self-esteem and work ethic. You need to realize that the world is much simpler than you think.
You have done good. Yes, you could have done better. But that will always be true. Learn from your mistakes. Teach others not to repeat them.
Give respect where respect is due. Take and swallow shit when you need to, but don’t stand for injustice. Don’t be a hypocrite.
It’s still okay if you don’t know exactly what you want. By now, you know a dozen things you don’t want. That’s a pretty good start.
You still have a couple of decades to go before it’s all said and done. You are twenty-five. Be grateful for what you have, and be kind towards your past.
Of course, you still need to run after that golden snitch. Just because you are Harry Potter, doesn’t mean you stop trying to be a Victor Krum.
Keep chasing your dreams, you idiot. Just learn to be faster, better and smarter about it.