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An Open Letter to High School Me

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Dear Anat,

Hey.
It’s me.
Technically, it’s you from the future.

Remember how great everyone told you college was? How they told you that they made some of their closest friends, found themselves through exploring new things, and had the best four years of their lives?

That sounds wonderful, I know, but I’m here to burst your bubble. That isn’t the reality of college.

You’ve heard the saying “It always gets worse before it gets better,” right? Yeah, well, that’s college.

You may be saying, “you’re only in your first semester, how would you know?” Well, in just 13 long, dreadful weeks, I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I just wish you had known sooner. That’s why I’m here to give you some vital life advice. Grab a pen, some paper, and get ready to take notes. This is How To Oxford College 101.

1. First of all, stop stressing. Emory was your dream school and you got in. Relax. This might be the only free time you have for the next four years, so enjoy it.

2. Be open to meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds. Oxford College has plenty of diversity, but remember to protect your heart and your soul because not everyone deserves you. If anyone tries to take advantage of you, know that you’re strong and can stand up to them.

3. Even though you’re making new friends, never forget about your old ones back home. They will still love you even though you’re miles away. They will be there for you if you start to feel lonely.

4. As much as it hurts, leave your significant other behind. Yes, you love them, and they love you, but long distance rarely works, no matter what the movies say. College is an experience for you, so live for yourself these four years. If it’s meant to be, your paths will cross again in the future.

5. Your roommate can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Luckily, you get the best roommate imaginable and you click like lock and key. But if in an alternate universe you and your roommate don’t get along, remember it’s not the end of the world. Lions and gazelle live in the same vicinity, and so can you, I promise.

6. Start joining clubs and networking from day one. Oxford College is a small community and competition is high, but regardless, apply. Joining clubs and applying for executive board positions is important because you meet other students and professors working to make a difference on campus. Networking is probably the biggest skill you will learn in college because it is essential to finding an internship, getting a job, and being a social competent person. You will carry that skill with you for years after you graduate Emory.

7. Don’t take pre-med classes because your dad wants you to become a doctor, take pre-med classes because you love them. That applies to anything you may want to do. You’re undecided and that’s okay. Oxford is a liberal arts college. You are meant to explore what you love, so take advantage of what opportunities you have, and don’t stick to something because your parents think it’s good for you.

8. Your schedule will be hectic and you’ll wonder how to get everything done. With everything that goes on, don’t forget to meditate. You may think I’m kidding but I’m not. Join a yoga club. Sit still in a silent room. Take a walk on Oxford’s nature trails early in the morning. And my personal favorite–listen to some classical piano music to calm your restless mind.

9. If you don’t want to meditate–I won’t be offended–I suggest getting something to care for. Get a plant or a fish (in my case, two fish) and keep them alive for as long as you can. Caring for something other than yourself will boost your self esteem and give you motivation to wake up in the morning. Trust me, waking up in college will be harder than most of your pre-med requirements.

10. Last but certainly not least, call your parents–every day. Let your mom know how you’re doing and tell her about your problems. Trust me, she will know exactly what to say if you just give her the chance to help. Even though you think you won’t miss your parents at first, you’ll get homesick before you know it.

College will make you realize how lonely the real world can be. You will learn that the world in unbelievably cruel even to the best people you know, but they carry on. You will cry about how unjust this world is, but get up the next morning to do it all over again. You will think about how insignificant you and your life are in the entirety of the world, but you will continue to strive towards your goal. You will lose motivation to get out of bed some days, but you will get through it, you will flourish, you will learn, and you will survive.

Remember that things may get worse before they can get better.
You can get through it.

With all the love in the world,
Anat Shapira

Photo courtesy of Anat Shapira 

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