Dear 18 Year Old Bailey,
In three days, you are going to move, sight unseen, to a city you’ve never been, and to a campus you never visited. Just so you know, your life isn’t going to be quite as perfect as that hopeful moment in your fresh, new room in Prescott House will feel.
You will face some major disappointments:
- No, you won’t be a world-famous criminal profiler, but I promise that you will make a difference in this world.
- No, as it turns out, that guy from high school wasn’t The One, after all. Your father was right when he told you that your priorities change as you grow.
- And on that note, no, it turns out that guy from your Sociology 1001 wasn’t The One, either. Your mother was right when she told you that you are The One for yourself, and you are the one you need to focus on.
- Finally, The Darkness are a one hit wonder. But, that Fiona Apple album will last you forever.
I’m proud of you, because in the face of these disappointments, you didn’t lose faith that you were right where you needed to be. You stayed positive, and by chance, there were a few things that happened at exactly the right time:
- There’s a Criminology professor who will be there when you need to know what you’re going to do with your life. He’s going to give you a life-changing piece of advice, and you, very sensibly, are going to take that advice. Your life will be better for it.
- There’s a volunteer opportunity that will come your way, after you search long and hard for something to contribute to. Getting involved in your new community opens doors you’ve never imagined.
Certainly, you are about to make some great choices, like the ones above, but you’re also going to make a few very bad ones. You’ll have some regrets. You’ll learn that people can disappoint you, just as you can disappoint others. You’re going to behave selfishly sometimes, treat some people badly, and occasionally wonder what, exactly, it is you’re supposed to be doing.
You’ll also learn about your own boundaries, how to exit relationships and jobs gracefully, and what, exactly, it is that moves you, fulfills you, and inspires you.
A few more pieces of wisdom include:
- It actually doesn’t matter in the end if you use the magenta or teal-coloured font in MSN Messenger. You’re spending a lot of time deciding on which kind of gal you are, and there are more important things you can be thinking about. (Great choice not to bother with a MySpace page, by the way.)
- You can take a few extra risks, and get more comfortable with discomfort. You hate being bad at things, and it means you rarely try something new. Just so you know, one day a thing called Pinterest will give you lots of quotes that tell you something along the lines of, “You only get better at things by starting them.” You would probably speak another language or play an instrument by now if someone had told you that a few years ago.
- Use your library card. Public libraries are one of the greatest gifts to this world.
One day, you’ll look around and your life will be exactly what you want it to be. But, you did not arrive at that place alone. In fact, if you reflect on how you got there, you’ll find that the most successes you’ve had were when you asked for help, and ignored your ever-present, and often wrong, impulse to do every single thing by yourself because you think you know every single thing there is to know. But my advice to you is to continue to reach out. Never miss an opportunity to connect with someone else, because so often these random connections actually lead to something incredibly impactful in your life.
My final piece advice is remind you to thank the people who helped you every chance you get. In fact, you could probably say, “thank you,” a lot more.
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