How do I start this thing? Is ‘Dear my First-Term Self’ too formal? How would I start a letter to myself? Hi. It’s me. Or you… Hello. First of all, I would like to keep this casual. You would not write an essay to yourself, would you? No, you write enough of those already. I really wish it were possible that you could read this right now, but I suppose no time has been wasted walking the long way around. At this moment in time, the detours seem perilous. Trust me, I know. You will be wondering if you will ever reach the place you had set out to arrive at. Do not worry. Destinations change. Your route is not a fixed one. I mean, I am no mind reader, but I have a slight hunch that you might be worrying. What are you worrying about? Let me tell you: you feel as though you do not fit in. Everyone appears to be falling into friendship circles and you, well, there you are, alone in your room, head in a book, panicking over essay deadlines and losing sleep over Middle English. Rather than telling you where you went wrong, however, I will tell you where and when you start to go right.
After first term, you will start to realise that you are perhaps exerting yourself too heavily (yes, reading is such a strenuous task). There is more to your degree than ploughing through reading lists. Remember why you love your subject. You are here to learn, to be inspired, to progress. Instead, you are digging your own pit. The more books you shovel through, the closer you feel you are to discovering the buried treasure. In reality, you are deeper into the ground and struggling to clamber back out of your own ditch. As you can see, your English degree is really helping you to find original metaphors… But all hope is not lost! Soon, you will begin to divide your time more effectively. Look forward to that. You were a fun person once, so I have heard, and you shall be fun once again. A tea break with friends now and then did not hurt anybody (how wild). Or long walks. Or movie nights. Or formal halls. Or star-gazing (yes, you really did that one night and it was funnier than you might expect).
Next thing you know, your hobbies will start gravitating back towards you. You are singing, writing, reading. The second you stop using the phrase ‘I don't have time to do that’ is the moment you start making time to do the things you so desire to do. Perhaps you are expanding your friendship circle. From a simple ‘hello’ to a familiar face around college to trying new things with new friends. (I know you hate sports, but your friends may even try to teach you how to play tennis. Try not to be too grumpy when you don't pick it up straight away.) Now you will start to open up about your past experiences in college and guess what – you are not alone! You will be surprised at how many people have said that they can empathise with you.
So, I suppose I would like to change the address of this letter from ‘Dear me’ to ‘Dear you’. Yes, you! To anyone who is reading this right now. Pass this letter forward. For all I know, you could feel exactly the same way as I do (or did). You are not alone. University takes some time to adjust to and they certainly do not include that in the terms and conditions. So, from me to you, each day is a new one, so make each day better than the last. And ask yourself this: what would I say to my first-term self? And even further, what would my future-self say to me? How can you improve your third-term self before the term ends? Think on that.