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An Open Letter to being 18: College, the Future, and Taking on the World

photo by @rahvsid on instagram.. {Salt Lake City, Utah]

As the end of the collegiate year draws to a close for the majority of universities around the United States, I find myself unable to do any activities other than studying consistently for hours at a time, for days in a row, in order to cram enough information into my brain to pass final exams. College is much more fast-paced than high school; if you blink, you can easily get lost in the curriculum. It tests your study skills and your motivation and often, you have to run ahead to keep up, or risk getting left behind.

But for the most part, my friends and I did well, juggling our load, while forgetting our troubles on the weekends (and leaving multiple papers to Sundays at 4:00 A.M). But we learned valuable lessons about the career field, the future, and most importantly, ourselves.

Often it is said that at 18, you feel like the whole world is in your hands. But the way I see it, that’s because it is. The collegiate world opens you up to new opportunities in internships, networking, and careers. You create LinkedIn accounts, join sororities, and meet dozens of new people.

18 is just the beginning of the long journey ahead. We can easily find ourselves, lose ourselves, and search for ourselves on a daily basis. It is a wonderful cacophony of messy buns, chugging down endless cups of coffee, and making your planner your best friend (because without it, you would forget the 50 things you had to do today).

But most importantly, as my freshman year comes to an end, I must say that I learned the most about myself. Coming into your freshman year, you have the knowledge and burden of your past, and the overbearing weight of the unknown future bearing down on you. But college, in its purest essence, is about living in the present, and finding happiness in the moments occurring right now.

Coming into my freshman year, I had lost a good majority of friends, been rejected by a boy I had once had feelings for, and was stuck commuting to classes, instead of going to my dream school. But despite all this, I was ready to forget my past and work for my future. Though it was an admirable strategy, I figured out it was much less productive than I thought it would be.  College isn’t about forgetting the past, it’s about facing it.

Accept the past, no matter how bad, and let it go.

You forget your ex-friends, and figure out who your real ones are. And even though it sounds cheesy, you really begin to make relationships that will last forever.

In order to succeed in college, you have to have clear goals, both short-term and long-term, such as maintaining your GPA, and  building your career. The future can be terrifying. What if I don’t succeed? What if I fail a class? What if my GPA drops down, what if I lose my scholarship, what if I can never find a job in this field? There are endless things to worry about, always. And with the rising unemployment rate, the idea that we devoted everything we had into a degree that might be for naught seems like the end of the world. You have to always be planning for the future, but at some point, it starts to feel exhilarating and exciting, instead of vague and petrifying.

College can be terrifying. Being 18 can make you feel overwhelmed by the possibilities or lack-thereof of the future. But even though I came into my freshman year with a regrettable past, and under tenuous circumstances, it helped build who I became, and who I will become.

I am still unsure of the future. Who knows if I will stick to my major, or if I will pursue a new path, but what I have learned is to not let that fear of the unknown stop me. There are endless possibilities. But the point is to make those possibilities your own.

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Daniela Romero
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Daniela is a 19 year old college student, business major, feminist, and aspiring makeup artist. For business inquiries, contact her at danir405@gmail.com

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