If you are anything like me, right now you would rather write a twenty-page paper than give a presentation in front of a class. You hang out with a group of your best friends in a basement every Friday night and laugh harder than you ever have before – completely sober in every way. You’re still learning how to make small talk with strangers and people regularly ask you why you’re so quiet.
When you go to college, you will learn so many things.
1) You will have to take a speech class and give speeches in front of your peers. Your palms will sweat the entire time and you’ll talk as quickly as you can and you just hope that no one notices how much your entire body is shaking.
2) One day, when a cute guy catches your eye and starts walking toward you, you will be so scared that you will announce to your best friend that you have to go to the bathroom. She will reprimand you for being a chicken and you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to socialize properly.
3) You will stop thoroughly reading every chapter and book that you’re assigned, and learn the art of skimming.
4) You will look at your roommate’s wardrobe and become self-conscious about every article of clothing you own. You won’t understand how she can make her hair behave so easily or how she learned how to contour with makeup so naturally.
5) You will realize that you aren’t the one who’s noticed very often. You aren’t bold enough to do anything outrageous. You aren’t a total bombshell or an energetic sports enthusiast or a great dancer. When you tell a joke, it’s not as funny as if your charismatic friend who always says hilarious things had said it.
6) You will, some day, get drunk. Quickly. You will throw up in your dorm’s bathroom toilet. The next morning, you will be mortified by people’s stories of how you behaved.
7) But for the first time in your life, you’ll gain confidence in who you are and realize that your ideas are worthwhile. You’ll share those ideas in classes. You’ll debate and think and stand up for what you believe in.
8) You’ll speak on student panels in front of hundreds of prospective students. You’ll still get nervous – but you’ll choose to do it anyway.
9) You’ll learn about new hobbies like rock climbing that you never thought you’d have the chance to love as much as you do. And you’ll get up at five in the morning on Saturdays just to do them.
10) You’ll enjoy learning solely for the sake of learning – and not just like school because you’re good at it. You’ll talk to professors who will tell you some of the wisest words you’ve ever heard.
11) You’ll find really awesome friends who each connect with you in different ways. They will expand your perspective. They will be from all walks of life. They will challenge and inspire and understand you. They will sip on wine and watch the stars and dance like a fool with you.
12) You’ll realize that it’s okay to spend a Friday night by yourself. It’s okay to say no to things. Take time for you. Heal. Find peace. Rejuvenate.
13) Most of all, you’ll realize that your approval is the only one that matters. Eat that extra cupcake. Wear that bold sundress. Stop straightening your hair every morning when you know that you’re proud of your natural curls. Don’t hang out with people who make you feel small. Tell that boy that he makes your world make sense. Make an argument for something you believe in. Say what you’re thinking. Step out of your comfort zone. With every ounce of your soul, with every fiber of your being, do what makes you come alive. Be who you are and never look back.