Dear Elana aged 18,
Right about now, you’re probably feeling a wave of feelings, both bad and good, about what’s to come. Don’t worry! It’s totally normal—I’m just here to ease your worries and give you some gentle guidance. You have a big life step coming up, but no matter what, it will be okay. In fact, it will probably be great.
I’ll start with the first thing that’s probably on your mind—making new friends. It can be scary coming from an environment where you’re so comfortable to a fully new place where you probably know no one. Here’s the good news though—everyone else will be just like you. Just say your name and you’re off on a new adventure! A word of warning though: if you want to find your true friends, you’re going to have to put yourself out there a bit. Get involved in things you love. That’s where you’ll find your people. It will take some time before you’re settled into a new friend group, but if you’re a floater, just embrace that! One of the best parts about university is getting to know so many new acquaintances from all over the world!
Now, let’s get to the reason you’re coming here in the first place— Uni. University will be different from high school, but in a lot of ways, it’s much better! For starters, you might find yourself with less contact hours, so you’ll have a lot of time on your hands. That doesn’t mean you should procrastinate though. I recommend making a schedule and sticking to it—break everything down into really small increments. A 50-page reading sounds really daunting, but if you break it up into 10 pages a day, it’s not so bad anymore! If you have trouble getting the grades you want, don’t worry! The expectations are high, but your teachers and tutors want you to succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
On the topic of free time, you should definitely start getting involved in things you love (or desperately want to try) as quickly as possible. These activities will help ground you at uni, make you feel like part of a community, and give you a purpose aside from your classes. Don’t worry if at first, you find yourself back at the bottom of the ladder—your time will come, I promise!
You’ll also have plenty of time to get a part time job, an internship, or do some volunteering. You’ll have countless mentors leading you in the right direction, from professors, to tutors, to friends, to even (god forbid) your parents. Listen to them all! But also, make sure that what you do feels right to you, and isn’t too stressful. Uni is your first priority!
I feel obliged to say that a lot of your friends will want to go out a lot. As your older self, I’m telling you to have an open mind—you may surprise yourself! That said, don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. People will respect you for sticking to what feels right to you, as long as you respect them as well. Plus, you’re in one of the best cities in the world. There is so much to explore in London!
Finally, remember that this is the one time in your life when you have lots of freedom and very little responsibility. That means that you have so much time to really find yourself. You’re going to change, and you’re going to make so many new discoveries about who you are. Embrace the old with the new and become the very best version of you. Some days, you may not like who you see in the mirror, but that just means you have to keep reaching for self improvement. I promise that the person you’ll become will be so much wiser, kinder, more empathetic, and infinitely more complex in all the best ways. Take care, be safe, and have fun!
I’ll see you in three years!
Regards from your older self,
Elana, aged 21.