An Open Letter to Whoever You Want to Be
By Carole Ann Salb
Dear College Freshman,
You just finished high school and you’re about to start college. You’re terrified, excited, and expectant all at the same time. You probably have a ton of questions and things you want to know. That’s where I come in. I’m here to help walk you through the crazy ride that is college.
My advice is to not let who you are keep you from becoming who you could be. Let me explain. You will be exposed to new ideas and different perspectives. You will meet all kinds of people and experience so many wonderful things. With all that college has to offer, there will be times that you find yourself doing, or not doing, something based on what you would’ve done in high school or with your friends at home. You’ll also likely hear your parents’ voices in your head telling you how to behave because it’s how you’ve acted for the last 18 years. I get it. You have many fantastic memories from high school, and you like yourself perfectly fine. But guess what? You’ve got more growing to do. Your high school self isn’t your best self. You have things to learn and experiences waiting to be had.
When I started college, I thought I knew exactly what clubs I would join and all the courses I would take. Well guess what? I was wrong. As I went to all the orientation events and started taking classes, my plans changed. I met people that instantly became close friends and challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone. I ended up joining a sorority, which is something I swore I would never do, but ended up loving. I minored in Spanish and even enjoyed it, and I went to events that I never would’ve thought I’d attend. All of my experiences led me to the most challenging but rewarding aspect of my time in college. I became the president of the council that oversees all the sororities on campus. If someone had told me in high school that I would be the president of an organization, I would’ve laughed in their face. I didn’t want that much responsibility and I didn’t think I would be a good leader. Well I am here to tell you that I loved every difficult minute of it. That position taught me how to be a better communicator, be okay with not pleasing everyone, and make tough decisions that affect those around me. All of these skills are useful in my career of teaching. Being president ultimately made me as confident as I am. It terrified me, but the possibility of learning and growing from it excited me so much that I couldn’t turn away from it. All I’m saying is that if I decided to be comfortable with the person I was and not challenge myself, I would’ve lost out on so much. I know change is scary. But sometimes it’s for the best. You are a good person now, but you will become a really great person if you let yourself. You just have to take risks and let yourself experience college fully.
With all of this in mind, it’s important to listen to yourself. Only you know what is best for you. You will have many opportunities to try new things. Some will be scary and some will be great. You don’t have to like everything you’re exposed to. It’s okay to stay in and watch movies on a Saturday night instead of going to a party. It’s okay if you don’t want to go to the club on Thursday nights. You are the only one that can decide how to live your life. While you should experience all that you can, don’t force yourself to do something you truly do not want to do. That is part of finding yourself and becoming the best you that you can be.
Lastly, I want to tell you that it’s okay to feel homesick. Your home is all you’ve known up until now. You miss your mom? Call her. You need a break for a little bit? Go home for the weekend. I promise it gets easier to be away from home because the friends you make slowly become your new home. You are going to have the time of your life!
You got this! Go kick some butt!
Someone who believes in you,
Carole Ann during her freshman year (left) and senior year (right)
About the author: My name is Carole-Ann and I am a teacher in Polk County Florida. I grew up in Ocala then moved to Lakeland for college where I attended Florida Southern College. I majored in Elementary Education and minored in Spanish. I graduated in December 2019 and now work as a second grade teacher at the school that I completed my student teaching internship. When I am not busy with school, I enjoy reading, taking photos, and spending time outdoors.