"Love Your Growing Pains" by Gabi H.
Dear Freshman Gabi,
You did it. You’ve made it to college, and it’s so much more than you could have anticipated.
You never thought a school could be so pretty. Rephrase: You didn't realize "pretty" was a thing a school was supposed to be! The public high school you attended in Miami was built on top of a chemical waste dump, designed by the guy responsible for the architectural feat that is the county prison. But somehow you ended up here, all the way at Georgetown University.
From here on out, the next 4 years will be an exercise in feeling uncomfortable, in pushing past your comfort zone to find what really makes you happy.
On your first day, you'll notice that people here don't dress like you. You thought it'd be ok to show up in leggings and a tank top, but everyone here is so "put together" — whatever that means. You'll dash into the nearest clothing store to buy a new outfit, to cover up the fact that you don't "belong."
You'll spend the rest of your first semester at college trying to pull off the perfect disguise, masquerading as a "Georgetown student."
There's a whole vocabulary you didn't know you didn't know. People talk about their prep school in New Jersey like you should've heard of it, so you pretend you've got a clue. When girls talk about "Lily" or "Jack Rogers," you nod — but inside, you're like, "Who?"
Over the next 4 years, you'll realize that whatever you wear, however you speak, you've earned your right to be here — you belong. Everything you need to succeed is already inside you. Trust yourself.
Along the way, you'll lean on people who take you for granted because “having someone” makes you feel comfortable. Don't do that. Like seriously, don't. It's better to walk alone than alongside people who subvert your personhood with every strep. Remember: It's better to be uncomfortable than unhappy.
You'll figure that out, and you'll push past your comfort zone in other ways, too. You'll study abroad in London and experience so much, so fast it makes you dizzy in hindsight. And when the semester's up, but you're not ready to stop traveling — to stop growing — you'll say yes to a summer internship in Israel.
When senior year rolls around, you'll joke with your freshman roommate — yes, you guys are still best friends — that you've experienced "zero personal growth" since walking through those front gates at 18 years old.
But in reality, all the discomfort you'll feel at Georgetown, all the let downs and confusion and self-doubt — those are just growing pains. And with graduation fast approaching, you'll look in the mirror and think, "This is the person I’ve become, and I couldn't be happier."