To My 19-Year-Old Self: You’re Doing Just Fine

woman standing in field at sunset
Jean Gerber

Hey you,

It seems four is our number. It’s the number of years it took us to finish two degrees in higher education. It’s the number of tries it took to woo mentors and professors, showing them we’re worthy and capable of trial and error, and success. It’s the number of years it took to sort out the people who are important in moving you and your life onward. It’s the number of years you waited to see Billy Joel in concert.

Life will happen. So, enjoy the ride.

Don’t let the monster that is anxiety consume you. You will work hard, harder and smarter than you are at this point in your life. And you’ll be fine. You are stressed out about college—where you’d attend, where you’d transfer to, what you’d study, whom you’d meet, and whom you’d miss. These are only temporary concerns.

You will tell yourself to handle situations one day at a time, but you will soon need to plan ahead. The sooner you make this a habit, the better. You will meet people you’ll love, people who will make you feel incomplete during their times of absence, and people you’ll simply tolerate.

There will be people, as I’m sure you already know, who will admire your free spirit; but there will also be those who will detest it—your spirit of determination, creativity, ideas, passions, and even your kindness. Still, don’t let anxiety have you. You won’t be able to please everyone, even the people you care about most. People will disappoint you, sometimes over little matters, and you will also disappoint them about bigger ones. It’s the people we care about or prioritize that tend to disappoint us easily. The feeling will often be something of exchange. Be patient, not compulsive. You are loved, appreciated, and treasured, even if disappointment is what mostly surfaces.

You’ll move on to accomplish much more, and in such a short period of time. You’ll feel the pressure and anxiety then more than ever. I can personally tell you that you’ll survive it. Not only will you overcome it, but you will grow from it. Cliché, I know, but you can ask me about it. Things will get better even though there will be times when circumstances seem or feel more difficult than before. I can tell you that you will be nervous about many things, particularly things you can’t control. But you can control you, and you will stay confident in who you are despite those who will question your elements. Again, there will be some people who will continue to admire this about you, while others won’t be as accepting.

More people will come into your life. Some will stay, while others leave. Only the second time around, most of these people are made of heart and soul, like you. Keep these people near and dear.

Enjoy the travel that you’ll do. There will come a time, when time, is in fact, not on your side. Time is structure, but a time will come when time will make aspects of your life seem very unstructured. Time will change others, so don’t fool yourself. It will change you, too. It’ll make you pause some of the passions that you’ve been able to practice, but you will need to make time to resume. It’ll make you question your past and future, but you’ll learn to do the things that move you forward, and at your own pace.

I’ll leave you with this: keep a simple pen and paper near you and let out your thoughts, experiences, and influences without a filter. More milestones worth a record will come. Most importantly, do not stop dreaming or imagining. You’ll find that the smallest and wildest things that come to you, sometimes at the oddest of times, were once silly little dreams, thoughts, or murmurs that have come true in time. Dream on, but remember to plan—particularly in years of four.

Love,
You
TC mark

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