An Open Letter to My Junior Year

Dear it's been three years, but it's still 3 AM,

Isn't it funny, that you can go through life feeling like you have it all figured out, just to be reminded that three years ago you didn't know how to do your laundry and today you still don't understand budgeting, and this is your life?

Three years ago, I shared my freshmen journey and took the first step of redefining who I am. Today, I am a junior still seeking to live a life for ME and not for anyone else. In my third year of college, it feels as if the young freshman girl who wrote to you three years ago is a stranger to the girl who writes to you today. The one thing that has remained constant in my life today is how far I still have to go.

It has been three years since I left home and began this journey that is confusing, yet rewarding and one heck of an adventure. It's the journey that has continued to question the person I am but also the journey that has given me every opportunity to redefine that person. So here I am writing a letter years later, to share the life lessons and persistent reminders that I have added to my survival guide on life on my (almost) own.

In my third year of college, I realized change is inevitable and all part of God's master plan. It is often though that we will one day find the best us, but I have now realized the best 'us' changes from moment to moment. It has been one of the biggest life lessons I have ever accepted. This lesson is why I no longer feel sad for the person I let go of, but I celebrate how far I have come and how much farther I will inevitably go in the future.

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It is because of this new outlook that I now realize that changing is as beautiful as it gets.

To the old you that you let go: Be proud of yourself. It is not easy to accept that you are evolving. Change is rarely easy. The change pushed you to ask yourself the questions that you would have rather not. Change may have removed people that you loved. Change may have made you overwhelmingly sad. It also sometimes allows the saying "rock bottom" to feel way to relevant. But out of that supposed rock bottom, the change brought you strength. The change pushed you to see the people that stand proudly in your corner. Changed uncovered a better you. So be proud, because evolving is allowing yourself to go be great, to let yourself grow, and to find the best you.

Once you finally find your new steady ground, please embrace it, enjoy it, and be thankful for this time. This new path, as I have said, it's only our path for this moment, and change will come again. It will push us to seek a new path that opens the door for the 'best us' in our next chapter of our life to emerge. How lucky are you to be someone who realizes that the journey of becoming the best you is an ever-changing adventure worth taking in every chapter of your life. I'd say pretty lucky.

Beyond the acceptance of change, you also learn that growing up is inevitable.

By junior year of college, your responsibilities have increased immensely. Some of us are juggling internships or paying rent, while others are just trying to stay afloat in school and our social life. The ambitious us is doing it all and not looking back. It is a weird time in our life for sure. A little of the weirdness is due to every third post on social media being about people we know getting engaged but, to be honest, it is mostly because no matter our relationship status, we are all preparing for our fast approaching adult life.

It all starts to come very real, and you aren't exactly sure when you became too old to do the things you did as a freshman on campus. Regardless, we all have decided that out running our older age and increasing responsibilities is pretty close to impossible (even if we take the college victory lap).

To those still young: Don't stay in your comfort zone. Break out of it. Talk to those you wouldn't normally talk too. Apply for internships that you feel are long shots -- you might just get it. Join clubs that interest you -- you'll be glad you did. Take an active role in your college experience and don't let these four years coast by. We are seriously begging you.

To us (the oldies on campus): Please work -- you will be so thankful for the experience, and so will your future employers. Don't spread yourself too thin, it is better to have ONE great thing than ten ordinary things. Breathe when a new responsibility emerges. We are never given more than we can handle, and if we are, I promise there is always someone in your corner willing to help make that burden less. Enjoy your friends. You will never all be together in one place doing life again.

Whether you are wrapping up your college journey or you are just starting, don't be afraid to grow up. Growing up opens doors to new relationships, new experiences, and new opportunities.

Lastly, I really can't stress enough how important it is to take care of you on this adventure. My freshman year I urged everyone to love themselves unconditionally and never forget to see their self-worth. Back then I thought self-love was only tested during a dramatic change, but as the years have passed, I have found that I couldn't have been more wrong. It will always be tested whether you are 18 or 80.

If you are anything like myself, your college hasn't been a walk in the park. You have struggled to believe that YOU are your first and foremost priority. You are learning that being in charge of the value you place on yourself is a lot harder to believe than to just talk about. That is why I wanted to remind us that loving oneself is a constant battle that requires constant effort and do-overs.

My sophomore year, I took a back seat in loving myself. I let the warped perceptions and the threat of judgments in my mind navigate my journey. I thought with my insecurities rather than with the heart and soul God created for me. I say this because I wasted a year letting others define my value and happiness and I hate that I allowed that. I didn't take the driver's seat overnight, but with the help of the ones I love, I slowly took back control.

I remembered that these comparisons are nothing but warped perceptions that I had created. They were comparisons that had no serious meaning to anyone but me. That is why I can't urge us enough to take care of ourselves. It is so important to appreciate the life, body, and mind God bestowed us. One year doesn't define who we will always be, but it's a reminder of who we never want to be again. So in your hard moments remember confidence is key.

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As long you as have confidence, you'll not only survive but also you will thrive in this life.

To bring this never-ending letter (part 2) full circle, I ask you to remember the most cliché saying of all time -- life isn't a sprint, but a marathon. Remember that we are always learning on this adventure. It's a life that is beyond beautiful, unique, and impactful. Years ago I told you to take advantage of the blessings of friendships, the great parents you have, and the value you have in yourself.

Today I ask that you welcome change, you enjoy growing up, and you never stop loving yourself. Life is all about making those once in lifetime memories so don't be afraid actually to make them. Keep living your life by your rules, and let others continue to live by their own.

So you may not realize it now, but you are leading a life that only you can lead. You are surviving. Most importantly you are impacting so many lives along your journey.

Sincerely,

It's still 4 AM & I'm still exhausted after all these years.