Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Letter to My Freshman Self

Dear 18 year old Ashley,

Right now, you've just turned 18, you're spending your summer babysitting, and you're counting down the days until you leave for college. You are going to be moving across the country to a place where you don't know anyone. It will be exciting. It will be scary. It will get pretty lonely. But you'll come out the other side a whole lot stronger. Looking back two years from now, you won't be able to believe how much has changed and happened in your first half of college. The experiences and mistakes over the first two years of college will shape you, but there are some things I wish you would know now, instead of realizing two years from now.

Your dorm will not look like Pinterest. All the furniture is dark brown and you and your roommate didn't try to match exactly. All your Pinterest dreams will not come true with your freshman dorm, and that is okay! Your dorm room may not look like you imagined, but it will turn out to be a great place to spend your freshman year. 

However, you need to get your butt out of it more. The first few months will be really hard and you won't ever want to go to events or activities alone (you're still working on this in two years), but you cannot sit around just waiting on someone to ask you to do something. Be more proactive if you want to hang out with a friend instead of spending too much time alone.

When it comes to sororities and going through recruitment, still go through. You won't regret it. But don't say you have an open mind when you really are hoping to follow your mom's legacy. You will just end up hurt and disappointed. Trust me when I say you will be glad you didn't end up there. They are not your people, even if you don't know that now. 

As for the sorority you do join, remember that the organizations you are in do not define you. You define them. When boys at fraternity parties say things like "how are you one of them? You're not fat or weird," say something sassy back and walk away. They know nothing about you or your sisters, so they have no right to say anything so rude to you. And you definitely shouldn't let them get away with it. You and your sisters are strong, independent, fierce, and brilliant. It only hurts you to worry about what other people think of you because of what sorority you are in. Instead of wasting so much time and energy on that, use that time to build relationships with these women, you will wish you had started to really get to know them sooner.

Speaking of being confident in your sorority, be confident in yourself. You're still working on this one too. But there is no reason you should be afraid to raise your hand in class when you know the answer. There's no reason to be afraid of anything really. Speak up in class, talk to the girl who sits next to you everyday, go to a club meeting even when you don't know a single soul. Just please don't let your fear keep you cooped up in your dorm room. And don't try to boost your confidence by seeking gratification in others. It may be nice to hear someone tell you're pretty, but it is fleeting. Work on being confident in yourself and finding that confidence in something greater than you, instead of empty words.

You need to get out and make friends. Whether it's hanging out in the Mauldin kitchen or the girl down the hall's room or whatever else, there is no such thing as having too many friends. Just keep in mind that while some friendships start quickly and easily, they take a lot of work to maintain. You have to put effort into those friendships if you want them to last. But on the flip side, don't be so determined to maintain a friendship if it isn't a good one. Some friends will be there forever, some aren't meant to stay more than a few weeks. You will get better at realizing this.

Talk to people. Talk to everyone. Make friends with lab partners and hallmates. Start conversations with the 15 other girls all waiting for the bathroom at the party (if nothing else it will be entertaining). Talk to the boy who sits next to you in the bed of the pickup truck on the way to your first fraternity function, he'll turn out to be someone very special, it'll just take you a few months to find that out.

Call family often. You'll be pretty good about talking to your parents, but please call your grandparents more. They're not here forever and you will always wish you had more time to talk to them.

Keep in touch with your friends from home. Two years later and those two quirky friends of yours are still the best friends you've ever had. But don't be jealous of them making new friends and finding best friends at school, after all you should be doing that too.

Lastly, there will be times where you are not okay, and that is perfectly alright. Nothing is going to be perfect 100% of the time (heck it won't even be perfect 10% of the time), but everything happens the way it needs to. You cannot control everything. You don't need to control everything. Try not to be so anxious, I know that will be hard, it's still hard now. Don't let other people rob you of happiness just because they let you down. There are so many other people who will be there for you unconditionally, you just need to look around a little more to find them.

There is so much more I could say, but I have rambled and made barely any sense for long enough. Just know that at 20 you still don't have it all figured out, everything is not perfect, your college experience is not how you imagined it, but it is everything you need it to be. You still love Clemson, you have some pretty great friends at home and at school, you have an awesome, supportive family, and a wonderful boyfriend. You have started sharing your thoughts and feelings on the Internet and it has opened you up in tons of new ways. You are still learning and still growing, and I hope that doesn't ever change.

Have a great freshman year!


  1. Love this! "Just know that at 20 you still don't have it all figured out, everything is not perfect, your college experience is not how you imagined it, but it is everything you need it to be." << This is probably exactly what I would tell myself. Beautifully put! I actually wrote one of these a couple of months ago, but I'm not sure if I can bring myself to post it online....

    Alexa | theicingontheplaylist.blogspot.com

    1. Alexa, I was having one of those really inspired writing moments where I just put it all out there and didn't think about. If I had given it more time, I probably wouldn't have. I'm glad you like it!
      xo, Ashley