“This world we live in is messed up as it is, but I imagine it would be in worse condition if we were all exactly the same.”
~María Hernández Feo
If you are a college student and you don’t consider dropping out of school on a daily basis, then you must be doing something wrong with your life! Seeing as I am now approaching the end of my first semester of my junior year, I can see a big difference between the outlook I had on success at the beginning of my college career and my perspective now. I remember when I was a freshman I was so adamant about being the best at everything, taking the most classes, exhausting myself with work so I seemed as though I had my life all figured out… In retrospect, I can say I despise that 18-year-old that walked into her biology class and called her professor “teacher”. In fact, there are several things I would like to say to that young woman who wanted to do everything perfectly on her own and not fail along the way. That naïve, foolish, and stressed out person I was definitely needed a wakeup call. This is why I have decided to write a letter to my past self, and explain to her that she needn’t worry about how fast every triumph would come. I want to let her know that creating a future is a very uncertain, overwhelming, and difficult learning process, but that’s ok! Also, I want to treat my past self to a few pieces of advice, starting with my newly discovered path towards achievement, acceptance, and peace of mind.
Dear Past Self:
I know you are sitting in your bed worrying about your next move. I remember how you had an infinite amount of dreams, a limitless quantity of aspirations, and for this I commend you. I respect you for wanting to study, I admire your growing work ethic, and most importantly, I am proud to know you still haven’t lost the urge to pursue everything you set your mind to. With that being said, I must start giving you a few pointers, some tips that you will need in order to alleviate your current frustration and begin heading down the road that gives you everything you need.
Right about now, you have probably realized that college is a battlefield. I bet you never anticipated taking four exams in one day and I’m sure you didn’t believe that crying tirelessly is a natural reaction to exhaustion. You have worked very hard, but I also know you spirit is burnt out, and I know exactly why. You have spent an obscene amount of time stressing about how people will perceive you, and you have taken it upon yourself to satisfy everybody else’s expectations but your own. Studying is tough and I understand that fully, but studying becomes impossible when you don’t care about what you are learning. Science is great, but it is not your destiny. Sorry to break it to you, but you don’t want to be a doctor. I can see it in your face and I can read it in your enthusiasm. Leave it to the people who actually wish to spend their life being married to medicine, let them be the ones who find a cure for cancer. What I want you to do now is to go wash your face (because you sure have shed a lot of tears), take a few deep breaths, and forget that you are failing biology. In a few years, nobody will care about whether or not you know the parts of a cell, or how skilled you are on dissecting lamb brains. From this day forward, you need to occupy yourself with introspection, and I really need you to consider what you are passionate about. If I gave you a job tomorrow, in what area would you be working in and how do you plan to contribute valuable work to this ever- changing world? If you throw around a “I want fame, a mansion, a Rolls Royce, and a Gucci jacket” answer, I promise you I will kill you! In all seriousness, let your instincts be the guide for every ambition you have, because once you find that one thing that you love to do, that special area in your life that fulfills you, everything else will fall amazingly into place.
As for your parents and family members, I know they have harassed you with questions pertaining to what the hell it is you are doing with your life. There hasn’t been one family function in recent months where your aunts and uncles don’t sit you down and give you their pearls of wisdom, or a gathering where your grandmother doesn’t express her worries about you being so far away from home. I know you find this annoying because, all you want as an adult in the making is to be taken seriously. You want people to respect your endeavors rather than have people project their doubts on to you. Your feelings are perfectly understandable, but this is the only family you have, and if they want to inquire about your life, they are doing so because they care. These are the people who will fight to the nail in order to keep you safe, happy, and motivated. They love you dearly, and all they want is to see you thrive in the best way possible. Be sure to take their advice into account because, even though you won’t always agree with what they say, they have been in the position you are in now. I’m sure they were once young too and in the mess of trying to make sense of their own lives, so they have an idea about what they are talking about. Good advice always stems from a place of experience, so when you hear your dad tell you that, somedays you will definitely have to burn your ass studying in your desk chair, not knowing if your efforts will ever produce any good outcomes, or that nobody speaks of the person that didn’t undergo pain and suffering on their way to success, listen attentively because this all makes a lot of sense. If you are worried about whether or not you will be shunned by your family for choosing a different path for yourself, all I can say is that this is always a possibility, but there is nothing wrong with being authentic. You don’t have to do everything exactly like they would. Just concentrate on being a good human being, free of criminal offenses, with proper values and principles, always do everything with pure intentions, and you should manage to always have their blessing.
Your main concerns right now are your career prospects, but you need to understand that there are far more meaningful areas in your life that you need to attend to. I want you to stop comparing yourself with other people. If you haven’t noticed yet, allow me to say that there is nobody roaming around this earth who will be able to do what you want better than you can. Yes, there are people who are smarter than you, more creative than you, more outgoing than you, more attractive than you, and more successful than you, and that is one of life’s roughest realities, but this does not mean that you are worthless. This world we live in is messed up as it is, but I imagine it would be in worse condition if we were all exactly the same. I need you to relish in your uniqueness. Forget about the fact that you snort when you laugh every now and then because there are people who find that funny, don’t obsess about being perfect because perfection is overrated, don’t surrender when something doesn’t go your way because you will have better opportunities to fix it, and most importantly, ignore every need to belittle yourself, because people will always find reasons to pick at your flaws, people will always want to hate what they see in you for whatever reason, but if there is one constant love you need in your life is the love you have for yourself.
Before I forget, I want to ask you a big favor. For the sake of your growth, I need you to fail more often. Feel free to fail miserably all the time. I want to watch you fall on your face until you cry, because I want to know how you gather the strength to recuperate. I want to see you climb your way out of every hardship, every crying spell, every anxiety attack, every broken dream, every failed exam, all your aggravating classes, every incomprehensible lecture, every car crash, all those weeks you go without money because you spent it too quickly, all those days you spent writing papers only to have your professor say they were lousy, all those times your pride got wounded, all those moments when people didn’t like you, all those moments when you didn’t like yourself… I need you to know that you have all the power to survive these circumstances and still come out with all your limbs intact. Failure will give you a better sense of who you are and what you are made of, and every massive failure that takes place in your existence will come along with guaranteed chances for success.
You are a remarkable human being in your own right, but I never want you to toot your own horn. Be humble because nobody likes a show off, be kind because kindness never goes out of style, work hard because, at some point, you will see the fruits of your efforts. Right now, your view towards brighter days seems blurred, but I promise that you are just getting started, and you will live a life full of extraordinary events, great failures, immense pain, waves of happiness, and groundbreaking moments. If you want people to respect you, always be respectful too. Keep your loved ones close, and don’t worry about your haters because you know misery loves company, and your time is too valuable for that. Be mindful of the peace that needs to live in you, and accept everything as it is because you live through certain things for greater reasons. I want you to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient, powerful, sensual woman no matter what, without exception!
Hang in there kid and watch out, because this keeps getting better!
~ You from the future