Dear 18 year old me,
You’re graduating high school! Please take the time to enjoy what this moment means, and remember all of the amazing memories you have made. I know you’re thinking the future is big and scary and uncertain, and I sadly I can’t say that it still isn’t today. But we’ve always been up for a challenge, and you will step up to so many different opportunities in college.
I want you to know that it’s not so much the physical space of high school that made it what it was, but the people you met. Your best friends really are amazing– remember them, hang on to them. They will be there for you when you need them the most. Always remember to do the same for them. Cherish them even in the simple times, when you are just hanging out and laughing. Take pictures. Tell them you love them, often.
You may not know what you want your future to hold yet; I know there are a lot of people telling you different things. Just breathe– your college major isn’t the most important thing right now. You will figure it out eventually, and you will know it’s the exact right fit for you. I know you worked your butt off to convince Mom to let you go to UIC, and I’m so glad that you did. I’m so proud of the hours and effort you will put in every summer to pay for your tuition. You and only you made that happen.
Being in the city every day, being able to look up at the breathtaking skyline, is something you should never take for granted. Don’t worry, you won’t be commuting forever. At UIC you will find your courage and your strength, your limits and your breaking points. You will meet some great people who help you come out of that shell, and please– have as much fun as you can with them. You should be having fun! Take the new opportunities and run with them.
I wish I could say that it will be all fun and games, but there will always be difficult parts, as you already know. Mistakes will be made. You will be tested more than you think is possible, but please remember this: You ARE strong enough. You CAN get through anything. And when I say anything, I really do mean anything. I know you may sometimes not believe it, but I do believe in you. And while there will be times you might not like yourself a whole lot, those feelings will pass, and you can pick yourself up again.
And Katie– there is one more thing I need to tell you. While right now there are a lot of different scenarios on how your future can turn out, it’s okay if the one that comes to pass isn’t the one you imagined. Your future is exactly that– YOURS. There are important people surrounding you right now, but no one can hold your life or your happiness in their hands except YOU. Do not let anyone make you believe you are lesser. Do not let anyone tell you you can’t do something. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Do things for you. Independence is a priceless feeling. Be free.
No matter what, know this: You are smart, you are caring, you do matter, and you are beautiful. Be confident and trust your heart.
And always keep writing!
College Grad & Always Hopeful, You