"It's okay to ask for help" by Emily B.
Dear Freshman Me,
As you head back to campus from Thanksgiving break during your first year away from home, you’re probably feeling a lot of different things. First and foremost, you feel homesick, because being at home for the first time since August made you realize how much you miss your family and friends and pets, and how good it feels to be taken care of. You’re also excited to get back to the friends you’ve made so far, to return to some of the clubs you’ve joined, and to finish up your favorite class from this semester. But you’re apprehensive as well: about your first round of finals in college (don’t worry, it’ll be fine) and about going back to a place where you haven’t quite found your footing.
So far, your freshman year hasn’t been life-changing—not terrible, but also not great. But in the coming years, you’ll learn a lot that will change your life and make your Georgetown experience infinitely better than this first semester has been.
You’ll learn how to say no. You’ll eventually say no to a club that you joined just because it was something you did in high school, and that will allow you to say yes to getting deeply involved in two other organizations that will introduce you to some of your best friends and greatest passions. You’ll say no to friends that make you feel uncomfortable and insecure, and this will allow you to spend more time with people who make you feel completely at ease. You’ll say no to the idea of a fancy DC internship, because you know you’d rather take more classes and spend more time on DC Reads. Saying no to these things will allow you to be more present and involved in what matters to you. By the time you’re a senior, you’ll have exactly one extracurricular commitment, and you’ll be so, so happy about that.
You’ll also learn that you have to take care of yourself. After bouts with bronchitis, pneumonia, and mono, you’ll be constantly reminded that sleep is important to your physical health and mental ability. And during times of high stress and anxiety, you’ll get better at talking yourself down (or, frankly, calling Mom and having her do the same). You’ll get better at recognizing when a problem requires your full attention and when you can let something go. Your friends will share your love of spending an occasional Friday night in watching a movie, and they’ll also encourage you to have fun nights out. You’ll learn to prioritize your own physical and emotional wellbeing, and the people around you will help you do that.
Finally, you’ll learn how to depend on others. You’ll get better at asking your professors for help, especially when you start thinking about what you’ll do after graduation. You’ll become more honest with your friends (both at Georgetown and at home) about what you’re struggling with, and some of them will become your go-to career counselors and life coaches. You’re going to learn how to tell others that you need them to do something, and this will make your group project experiences infinitely better than they were in high school. At first, it might be terrifying to admit (to yourself and others) that you can’t do it all by yourself—but once you allow yourself to be more vulnerable, you’ll so appreciate the support you receive from your friends. And, in being more honest with your friends, you’ll open yourself up to forming stronger and more genuine relationships with the people around you.
By the time you become a senior, you won’t be the high-powered, hyper-involved Georgetown student with prestigious internships you thought you’d be. You’ll be surrounded by caring, intelligent, loving friends, you’ll be pursuing a career that motivates you, and you’ll be involved only in the things that really, really matter to you. And when you do feel lost and stressed, you’ll lean on your friends or call your family—because, most importantly, you’ll have learned that it’s okay to ask for help.
Emily Brown (COL’17)