by Kaiz E. '19
As part of their freshman retreat, students are asked to write letters to their future selves that they'll open and read on their senior retreat four years later. We asked a group of seniors, after reading those letters, to look backward and write letters to their freshman selves.
Hey, freshman me!
You can’t even begin to imagine the amazing experiences you’ll have, people you’ll meet, and things you’ll do over the next four years. That being said, you also won’t anticipate the downfalls you’ll have, the deadlines you’ll fail to meet, and tests you won’t do so well on. But that’s what makes high school so amazing: the exhilarating combination of highs and lows that will make up one of the most formative times in your life.
You don’t need me to tell you how important this next period in your life will be. You’ll have to do well, stay focused, be disciplined, manage your time well, and do a whole host of other things to ensure your future success. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that stuff is important. Here’s what is:
Following your passion. Throughout the next few years, you’ll begin to discover what’s important to you. You’ll find that you love talking about diversity – going so far as to create an entire day centered around it (be prepared for some 2000-line Excel spreadsheets). You’ll take classes that will inspire you to write tremendously long research papers (US History) and enjoy gross dissections (Physiology). You’ll have the opportunity to join countless committees to make a difference.
Cultivating great relationships. You’ll get to meet teachers who will make a lifelong impact on your life. You’ll connect with adults who will support you in whatever way you need. You’ll lose track of time as you discuss something you read with your English teacher. You’ll also find friends who accept you for who you are and discover that it might be time to let go of others. You’ll forge a stronger relationship with your family, relishing countless weekends filled with hugs, smiles, and laughter.
Taking the good with the bad. Bad things will happen. You’ll get an F on a unit exam. You’ll have a breakdown on a retreat. You’ll get blindsided by people who you considered to be your best friends. But you’ll grow. With each of these lows, you’ll ascend to new heights. You’ll learn from your mistakes and make better decisions in the future.
Going outside of your comfort zone. Trust me, there are so many things that you think you’ll never do, and then you’ll find out that you actually love doing them. So, take calculated risks and go for the plunge. Remember that you always have a safety line in case something goes wrong – and if something does, it’ll be an experience you’ll learn from nonetheless.
Staying true to yourself. Through all of this, you’ll do some intense reflection on who you are, what your values are, and who you identify as. Make sure to never let anyone tell you who you are – only you can decide that. Don’t be afraid to change who you are, though. Just make sure to never lose sight of what really matters: yourself.
Whew! That was a lot of information. So, simply stated: Be passionate. Be friendly. Be kind. Be thankful. Be daring. Be true to who you are. And, of course, have fun!
P.S. I know I totally used “you’ll” way too many times in this letter. Whoops.