Anyway, with renewed focus (and the fact that two of the four weeks of December will be spent in vacation), I am embarking on a month-long daily blog posting project as part of the Reverb Broads. You can also read the post that inspired my joining here -- thanks, Kassie!
Day # 1 -- The Prompt: "If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them?" via Kristen at kristendomblogs.com
I read the prompt for today's blog at about 6:30 this morning and it's about 6:30 in the evening, so I've spent most of my scant unoccupied minutes thinking about which Past Me deserves a good visit from Current Me. Most of my day, I've been composing letters in my head to 12 year old me and 16 year old me, but then when I really started to think about it, I think it's actually 18 year old me that probably needed the most help and also could have benefited from the most advice.
Dear 18 Year Old Me, in the Fall of 2000, During Your First Week Away at College:
Get a life. No. Seriously. Get a life. A real one. Stop being afraid of EVERYthing and get a life. Leave your dorm room, and not just to go to class. When someone invites you to a frat party, just go. You are still allowed to say no to the alcohol. But go, to have the experience. You'll learn that it's really just innocent fun and that college isn't about being able to tell stories about your professors or your assignments or the carrel you inhabit in the library (by the way, to save you some time, you'll eventually discover that your favorite carrel is on the sixth floor of Olin, on the North side, by the power outlet and the window that overlooks Sage Chapel. You're welcome.)
Stop being so afraid of failure. You DO already know this, but you will be a teacher some day -- and yes, a teacher of English, not of science, and it's okay when the time comes to let go of the Engineering dream. No one is going to be mad at you, no one is going to be offended or hurt because they bought you astronomy books when you were 10 and took you to every Science Olympiad meeting before you could drive and tolerated your science nerdiness and invested in your dream to be an astronaut. Your family doesn't care about any of that crap, so don't waste the next five months crying yourself to sleep out of the sheer terror of disappointing everyone who has ever pinned their hopes of having a world famous scientist on you. You are smart enough to do it -- you're good at it. Close that chapter in your life happily and willingly and hunker down into the novels you'll be teaching eventually. Don't waste your life dwelling on the potential of disappointing your parents, because eventually, when you have your dream job of teaching English at a high school that values your hard work and your intellect and your talent, you mom is going to write you an email that makes you cry, because she tells you how damn proud she is of you for doing what you do for kids. In fact, if you want to know the truth, 18 Year Old Me, your parents are going to be even more supportive of this career path because they know it's what you will end up living and breathing and loving.
Also, I hate to break this to you, 18 Year Old Me, but you will still be struggling with your weight when you're about to hit 30. There have been ups and there have been downs, but someday, though you won't believe it right now, you will successfully complete a half marathon and three 5Ks and will be in the process of training for a second half marathon as you approach your 30th birthday. Your body is awesome, and though you will continue to battle it and fight against your genetics and your hormones and your stupid inherited issues and your own stupid choices, know that you are freakishly strong and incredibly healthy, regardless of the size of your pants.
Speaking of your body, 18 Year Old Virgin Me, sex is not as scary as you keep thinking it is. You're in college now: get some. ... Okay, maybe that piece of advice is silly while dealing with your weight issues and your homesickness and your intense desire to be academically successful. But seriously, don't be so damn afraid of boys and men and sex and your body. Like I just said, your body is powerful and you will actually end up enjoying sex, so stop being such a prude and such a scaredy cat and allow yourself to be available and dateable.
But if you don't, know that you'll meet an amazing man who shares so many of your interests and quirks and appreciates your intelligence and your curvaceous body and your love of sex (heh) and your love of all things Star Wars and Star Trek and, eventually, grudgingly, Harry Potter. He'll make you laugh, he'll bring you fro-yo when you've had a terrible day, he'll bring you Tylenol AND Advil at 2:00 am because you're sick and having a melt down, and he'll help your parents and your grandparents with their computers and he'll talk you down out of Crazy Head when you are about to explode from your fear of failure.
18 Year Old Me, get a life -- or, at least, get living the one you have, because spending the next year of your life (your entire freshman year of college) because a reclusive, crying, depressed, anxious mess is going to do no one any good. Trust me: eventually, the crippling fear of being laid off that seizes you EVERY year for four years and the enormous stress of ever-increasing class sizes and your two-teachers-worth workload will make you REALLY wish you'd done at least some partying in college because by the time you're a grown up with real responsibilities, you'll be too damn tired to do anything but watch TV...
So go. Get out. Meet some friends, have a drink, go to a frat party or two, flirt with some boys, and enjoy the parts of college that you should be enjoying. I'm here to tell you, as Almost-30-Year-Old-You, you'll look back on college fondly, thinking about it every day, but also desperately wishing you'd done things differently in the beginning of it. Ultimately, your hard work paid off and you are allowed to be more than proud of your gnarly Ivy League academic achievements, but holy crap, girl, get out, get down, get funky, get kinky, and get living.