Today I start my first day of my PhD program halfway across the country — halfway from my friends, my family, my partner and best friend, and the place I called home for more than 20 years.
I came to UT, to Austin, not knowing really what to expect, but knowing that in four years, I was going to come out older, hopefully smarter, and a bit wiser. Four years later, I’m definitely older, smarter at studying, and I’d like think — a tad wiser too.
There’s so many words I want to say, as I reflect on all that’s happened to me in the last four years. And there are just as many thing I want to say, that I haven’t quite found the words for yet.
But perhaps, the easiest is just to think back to 19-year-old me, hanging Taylor Swift posters in her dorm room, and what I wish she had known. In honor of graduating as the Class of 2020, here are the 20 things I would tell my freshman year self.
- It’s going to be OK.
- Take seven deep breaths in a row every day.
- Go to any of the club info sessions that interest you — college is more than studying!
- You’re not obligated to join all of those clubs^. Pick the ones that you truly enjoy, and have fun.
- It’s ok to talk to the random person sitting next to you in class. They may become your best friend.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel, and seek professional help if necessary.
- You’ll meet lots of people, and you’ll make new friends. But you’re also going to lose some, and that’s ok.
- Don’t fixate on the drama.
- Go to concerts and explore the Austin music scene! (I once had the opportunity to go see Dua Lipa for $17 in Austin…and now I probably can’t because I can’t afford her tickets now.)
- Communicate — with yourself, with you friends, and your significant other.
- Call your parents — they miss you a lot.
- Change is OK. Even if you change your major, your career choice, junior year second semester, it can still work out.
- You’ll fail a few tests, or a lot. It’s OK. Grades do not determine who you are.
- Value your friend group — they’ll be your biggest support system.
- Make good decisions — ’nuff said.
- Study smart, not hard.
- Don’t procrastinate. You’re going to, you’ll regret it, you’ll probably still do it. But really, it really won’t do you any good.
- Get your sleep. Diamonds are formed under pressure, but your 10 page paper won’t get formed at 4 am if you’re incoherent.
- Love with all your heart.
- And finally — you’ve got this. You really do. I believe in you. 🙂