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Letter to my 19-year-old self

January 26, 2014

Dear 19-year-old Allison,

When you are three days away from your 21st birthday, you will find yourself in your apartment, watching a KU basketball game and laughing, talking and reminiscing with three of the friends who helped you get through age 20. On that night, think back to now, when you’re busy freaking out that age 20 is going to suck. You’ll realize 19-year-old you was wrong.

Sure, you’ll have days that suck, days when you “hate everything” because the to do list keeps multiplying, days when you feel like maybe Anrenee is right and you do have FOMO (fear of missing out) because while you enjoy all those weekends you’re inside watching TV with your friends, you wonder if you’re supposed to get out on the town more.

You’ll spend many moments having mini existential crises on futons and in E’s booths, lamenting about sources of pain plaguing your heart and rethinking things that always seemed like an integral part of your being (spoiler alert: this time next year, you and copy editing will no longer be BFFs).

In a few weeks, you’ll be questioning why you’re studying history after having a completely normal conversation with your Italian professor. You’ll question your entire college plan – what that second major should be, what you want to do in journalism, if what you’re doing now is your destiny. You honestly never thought you’d be someone who changes one of her majors twice, but sure enough, you will be. Your mom will tell you she never saw you as a history major anyway, which confirms your decision and confirms that you still, at age 20, need your parents. The good news is, when you make that switch to journalism and Italian, you’ll be so much happier because even though you may never pursue anything Italian-related after college (a year later, we’re still figuring it out), you enjoy it now, and that’s what matters.

You’ll have moments when you’re scared. When you won’t want to leave the comfort of your bed and the Netflix play button because you don’t want to face a deadline you’re worried about or a phone call that could cause your world to come crashing down with a single word. You’ll meet the deadline and the word will have a “not” in front of it, but you’ll still be shaken up and start to approach things differently.

You’ll wonder if you’re capable of the things you’ve set out to achieve, in a semester, in a year, for the summer, for the future. You think you are, and you work to be. Things won’t always work out the way you had hoped, and you will spend a few months in a place you didn’t set out to, but continue to learn from that experience, and just wait. Big things will happen for you. I promise.

Right now, you think age 20 is going to suck. In fact, you’ve been asking your older friends and reading articles for advice on how to survive it, what to do and how to experience it. You’re anticipating a year of change and growth, and you’re terrified because you’re inching ever closer to that “real world” post-college life. But as someone who has lived all but one full day of her 20th year, let me tell you: you’ll get through it, and while you won’t end it quite the same person as you were when it began, you’ll be a truer version of yourself by the time you hit 21.  You are pursuing your passions for journalism and Italian, you’ve gained confidence through the USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent Program and you’re finding your path with “The Breakdown.”

When you are two days away from your 21st birthday and you sit down to write a blog post about your 20th year, you’ll realize in some capacity, you spent every day doing things you enjoy with the people you care about most in the world. While whole days at E’s or bonding while studying for hours or lighting Hanukkah candles together or attending volleyball matches with people who aren’t quite as obsessed as you are may seem like small things, you’ll realize they’re actually some of your most precious memories, and you wouldn’t trade them, even for a lifetime’s supply of rainbow cookies.

And you’ll come to realize that age 20 doesn’t suck, and that growth period is helping you become the person you’re supposed to be. And two days from 21, you’ll realize you like who you’re becoming.

Love,

20-year-old (for two more days) Allison

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