An ode to the years of my youth

A letter to my future self from my now self attempting to reassure her that everything will be okay in college.


by Sydney Allen, Photo Editor

Dear August 2021 Me,

The sun is shining brightly directly above us, and it’s a sweaty 80 degrees outside. Your gown is slightly touching the back of your calves, and you have your mask adjusted on your face with makeup staining the inside. We’re graduating. We’re finally going to be able to move away from home and live the life we’ve always wanted to live. We’re finally going to be a grown-up in college. 

Yeah, not so fast, kid. Sure, you may be legally 18 years old and considered an adult in the U.S. Government’s eyes, but are you 100 percent sure you’re ready to go to college? All alone, 9 hours away, in cold and snowy Appleton, Wisconsin?

This means leaving the first home you ever knew; it’s a bigger step than you think it is. You have to pay for your own gas, you need a job, you have to maintain a really tight schedule and budget and you also have to do laundry on your own. Okay, you can do laundry on your own but that is beside the point. 

As much as I dislike college, because of my belief that it’s a social construct that we’re pressured into, I think it’s something that has always been waiting for me. Sure, I wasn’t given a choice of whether or not I wanted to go to college because my parents expected me to get a job and degree, but I didn’t need that choice. I just kind of always assumed that was the plan when I grew up. 

It’s not easy, though. It’s not “just going to college,” It’s applications, standardized tests, grades that won’t matter in 20 years and the most daunting task of leaving your first home. It’s not easy, and I don’t think it’s said enough. Yes, I am 100 percent ready to move out, but it’s the thought of being alone for the first time in my life that is threatening. 

In the wise words of comedian John Mulaney, “What is college?” Seriously, what is it? You go learn things in a bigger classroom than before with a teacher who’s slightly more qualified and maybe slightly nicer. You live in a 10×13 foot dorm with another person, and you all share the same shower and eat cafeteria food that may as well be plastic. 

I am scared of college because it’s that big leap into adulthood. It’s the greater unknown part of your life. You’ve always had a plan, you know what you’re going to get in between the ages up until 18 because it’s already laid out in front of you. Yet, the moment you step onto that campus, your entire life is completely different. To me, I see life as a five-act play in this exact order: innocence, school, more school, mid-life crisis, die. 

Right now you’re in “more school,” which you’re excited for. The Lawrence campus is beautiful and you’re probably already there soaking up the Wisconsin sun, looking out at the river that sits outside your dorm (crossing our fingers). But I guess this is the part where I tell you everything is going to be okay and that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Truly, I would be lying to you by saying I’m not scared; of course, I’m scared. Everyone has doubts in their life. I like knowing what I’m walking into, I always have. I am a person who needs a plan. Now, for the first time, I don’t actually have a plan. I just know that I’m going up there to learn, play soccer and get a degree in psychology. 

It’s okay. You’ll figure out the rest once you get there. 


February 2021 Me