I wish I could remember what I was feeling this time four years ago, in May of 2013, when I was nervous and shaky about college, unknowing of what would become and unaware of what was to be. I know you’re confused, and you don’t know where you’re going, and you’re worried about your ability to even complete your first year.
But I just walked down the hill. I just put on a cap and gown and went through commencement. I have a degree.
And I’m not even done. I still have more to work on. And I’m still looking forward to working on it. School is a challenge, but it’s the best challenge of my life so far.
The coming for years will be a challenge unlike any other. I know you suspect this. But you’ll come to find out that the things you fear that you’ll struggle with – making friends, finding time to do work – they’ll come to you. You’ll be fine, you’ll develop a respectable work ethic and you’ll meet people who will change your life. You’ll develop an ability to trust others and trust yourself at the same time. You’ll have a lot to give – your time, your mind, your opinions, your voice – to others, and you’ll find out how valuable that is.
Everything that you fear about the next four years and everything you hope for in the next four years will come true, and so much more. You’re scared, but you’re excited. You have a lot to be afraid of, and a lot to look forward to. But you’ll get through all of it.
You’ll feel the wheels of your car spin backwards as you try to speed up an incline outside your dorm. You’ll be forced to interview an individual for a degree you’ll eventually stop pursuing. You’ll challenge your beliefs in your future for the first time in years, and you won’t find an answer. You’ll stand with your friends and watch years worth of losing football.
But at the same time, you’ll meet more incredible people than you could ever expect. You’ll form tighter bonds than ever before, live with people you never thought that you could, and you’ll eventually find yourself exactly what you were looking for: a community.
And you’ll find a school, as well. You’ll find it in the stacks, at the fieldhouse, and on the concrete beach. You’ll find a school that tests your mind, and your work ethic, and your self-belief. But you have allies who will look out for you, and you have friends who believe you, and you develop a sense of self that believes in you as well.
I know it’s tough now. But there will come a day.
A day when you’ll look around at yourself, and your life in college up to that point, and it will start to make sense. A day wherein everything will become clearer, and you’ll know what you’ll need to do in order to succeed. A day when you’ll change, and nothing from behind you will make sense anymore, and everything in front of you will be in its right place.
And that day will come when you decide to shave your dumbass beard
College is a time of learning from your mistakes and making more mistakes, and then learning from them. And you have the tools to be a good student, the self-awareness to know when you’re doing something wrong and the work ethic to do it right. You apparently also have none of that when it comes to self-assessing your facial hair.
To be honest, this iteration to the left of this text here is the worst depiction. You can barely make it out through the camera’s quality, but, shit, 18-year-old Joe, that doesn’t even connect from your sideburns to your chin and it leaves a bit of bare skin that looks very bad.
It’s okay. It’s a mistake. But please, god, fix it.
In the magical realm we live in where I can apparently send this open letter to my eighteen year old self and I at eighteen will read it and be more cognizant of the context of the post itself rather than being freaked out at the idea that I apparently gain the power to send text and html webpages back in time at some point in the future, You Have the Power to Fix This. Also, Yes, at Some Point, You Deem it a Valuable Cost to Pay 35 Dollars Per Year for a Domain Name
I know you don’t want to be one of those “Neckbeard” guys, so you stopped shaving literally right at the neckline, but, like, think of yourself at 22, and think of the curiosity he’ll have in looking at himself from years prior. “What did I look like at eighteen?” He’ll ask himself, in an insanely naive voice, unaware that the smart part of his brain was keeping the memory of having a chinstrap repressed deeply away in the back somewhere.
You gotta get rid of it, man. Just like, buy a razor and put it to your face every now and then, every day or so, and make that a part of your routine. Please. It’s the one thing holding it back, eighteen year old Joe.