For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jul 28 2017
by Natalia Wurst

An Open Letter to the New Chapter of College from an Uncertain Freshman

By Natalia Wurst - Jul 28 2017

This letter is the result of the introspection I’ve done about moving into college and living on my own for the first time (SparkNotes version, yet still very chaotic). It's directed toward the "new chapter" I'm beginning along with many of you, which I have personified. I sincerely hope you can relate to some of it, but if not, that’s okay, you can just laugh at my irrationality.

Dear New Chapter,

I’ve been avoiding greeting you, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. You’re like an unread message notification that I refuse to open because that would mean that I would have to either A. face reality and respond, or B. leave it open and unanswered, acknowledging the fact that I’m ignoring you. Obviously, asserting my millennial status with that one.

Anyway, enough small talk, here’s the deal: I’m ready to greet you. I’m ready to possibly even befriend you, if you can believe it, because in twenty-two days, I’m moving into college and I’ll have to. Before this relationship develops any further, however, I have a few points of contention that need addressing.

First of all, you mess with me sometimes, did you know that? You make me write things in my journal like, “Bad news: It turns out that you actually do have to pay attention to the different settings on the washing machine— ughhhh, never again.” Once, you even made me turn to my childhood best friend with this horrified expression of realization and tell her “we’re gonna have to do the whole ‘making friends’ thing from scratch. Have you come to terms with that?”

Worse still, you’ve turned me into someone I’ve always mocked my mother for being: One who enjoys shopping for home supplies/decor (in this case, dorm supplies/decor). Now, even my new clothes hangers, arguably the most insignificant part of my entire room, the suckers that’ll soon be buried deep within the abyss of my closet, are made of hot pink velvet material and have a personality. Oh lord.

I’m enticed into reading online articles like “15 Ramen Hacks That Will Change Your Life” and “27.5 Things To Never Mention To Your Roommate Until She Pays The Housing Commitment Deposit And Is Stuck With You” (just kidding, Briana). It’s because of you.

And of course, we can’t forget about the unwelcome uncertainties swimming around in my brain. What if I totally bomb the MLA formatting on my first paper and fail the course? Is my wardrobe up to par with the standard? What is the standard? Eating alone in the dining hall sometimes isn’t weird, right? What is one fun fact about me that is casual but interesting and can be used during ice breakers? Wait, am I even fun?

Yeah, those are because of you, too.

It seems like I really can’t stand you at this point, and you’re justified for thinking so. But the thing is, at the core of this anxiety is, I’ll admit, pure excitement for what lies ahead. It’s just hard to tell, because I want things to be perfect (like the first born child that I am), and hence, I stress.

I feel like I’ll grow to be OK with imperfection, though, just as I’ll grow to be OK with asking for help with the overly complex washing machine. I’ll (hopefully) grow to understand that making new lasting connections won’t necessarily diminish my old ones, nor will finding joy in clothes hangers make me a crazy person (OK, well, maybe that one might). Most of all, though, I know that you will change me, whether I want you to or not. You will screw up the orderly picture I have in my mind of how things are “supposed” to go and how I am supposed to feel. And you know what? I give you my permission to surprise me.

On second thought, a heads up sometimes would be nice too.



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Natalia Wurst - University of Southern California

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