Recently, my friends and I have been sharing pictures of ourselves from high school and middle school in our group chat to showcase our horribly awkward years. After spending a decent amount of time scrolling through old Facebook albums that documented how my life used to be, I found it hard to recognize the person I was looking at in those pictures. Despite getting my braces removed, having significantly less acne, and just generally growing up, I started to think about how much of a different person I have become on the inside as well.
These past two years at college have taught me so much more about myself than any “What I Wish I Knew Before College” advice video could’ve prepared me for. I have been thrown into new places (both nationally and internationally), I have created a whole new group of friends other than the people I had known my whole life and I have been pushed out of my comfort zone countless times.
In high school, I was still me, but a very muted version. I was afraid to let my dry, sarcastic sense of humor come out for fear that no one would get my jokes. I tried so hard to please people that I ended up becoming a pushover. I thought that it was the end of the world if my hair became frizzy or my mascara didn’t look perfect. At the time, I thought I was happy. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I had been playing a role. I wasn’t being true to myself.
I am currently two months deep into my sophomore year of college and I am finally starting to figure out who I am. I have realized that I am a hell of a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for in high school. I am starting to understand my worth, what I deserve, and who is deserving of my time. Realizing that I am 19 years old and I have the whole entire world in front of me is exciting and freeing. There is a sense of security that comes with the recognition that you are in complete control of your own life.
The biggest factor in my sudden self-discovery was the decision to embrace change. I used to live terrified of the unknown, never in a million years would I have pictured myself throwing caution to the wind and letting life take me where it will. It has been said, “We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.” This quote has taught me more than anything I learned in my four years of high school.
I sometimes wonder if I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self these things, would I? I may have been living a far less fulfilling life than I could have been, but all of those decisions I made have shaped who I am today. If I ever found a time machine that could turn back the clock and allow me to give my high school self some advice, I think that I would simply say, “don’t worry, the best is yet to come.”