Letter to My Teenage Self

College changes you. You come in with certain expectations about the world and about yourself, only to be proven wrong again and again. At least, that’s what my college experience has been.

Through the mistakes we make, we learn. We observe the mistakes of others and can try not to do the same. 

I wrote this letter to my teenage self, to let her know that it’s okay not to be perfect, and that if she lowers her unreasonably high expectations of herself the world will not end. 

Dear Jasmine, 

This is the Jasmine of the future. The year is 2020 and soon you will begin your final year of college. What’s it like being a senior in high school? 

I remember anxiously awaiting the day I’d start my new life as an adult. Right now you’re probably at a club meeting or rehearsal for the school play. 

If not, you’re on the bus or train home free writing in your journal, and blasting music from your headphones. 

You don’t realize it yet, but Chicago is special because of the CTA. You’re going to depend on your friends and ride shares to get around the Midwest for the next few years, but don’t worry. You have your own bike to get around CR. 

I recommend that you relax a bit. I know a certain someone probably ate the snack you planned on eating when you got home, and that you’re going to struggle to get some sleep tonight, but it’s going to be alright. 

With all your classes, homework, and extracurriculars you deserve some rest. 

It’s going to take you some time to realize that you have a problem. You can’t get through life overworking yourself. It’s too John Henry for my taste. 

Granted, even if I tell you to take that art class you desperately wanted to take, it’s probably too late. 

Still, I want to let you know that you would’ve gotten into college, and earned the scholarships you needed, without that extra science class. 

It would’ve been so much fun to take ceramics or painting back at HT, but you’ll have opportunities to explore your creative side once you’re on campus. 

Who knew you’d have to learn to DIY when you join a sorority?

You truly do believe that you have to work your butt off now so you can finally be free to do whatever you want, once you go to college. I don’t think you’re wrong. 

The fact is, without all your hard work and determination I’d be struggling to even afford my education. 

Also, without your “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” attitude I wouldn’t be able to manage my jobs or my officer positions (or my life in general). 

I will say that you go too far, and the sooner you accept this the better. There’s no reason to volunteer at a place where the owner has no respect for the volunteers. 

You’re not getting paid to do the work anyway. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything either. 

You have your own life to live, and people will always try to make their responsibilities and expectations your own. You’re going to have to get used to saying “no”, a lot. 

Speaking of expectations, there’s nothing wrong with getting a B. You have more important things to worry about than the Dean’s List, such as living your college life how you want to live it. 

Stop comparing yourself to people! It’s annoying when your friends don’t realize how different your life is from theirs, but that’s life. You know how to live within your means. 

You can’t afford a car, and even if you had enough money you know you won’t buy one. 

We don’t like spending money or taking on debt, especially without a steady income that can cover the expenses. We don’t like eating out or buying fast fashion. We don’t like feeling pressured to spend money we aren’t comfortably spending. 

You’ll thank me later when you’re put in situations that make these values clear to you. 

You’ll also thank me when you learn that it’s okay to get by. If anyone expects you to become a millionaire working Iowa minimum wage, as a full-time college student, they’re in serious denial. 

You have a lot of goals and are hyper-aware of your finances, which means you are practically Mr. Krabs. 

Just know that most students are in the same boat as you. While you may wish things could be better, they could be worse too. 

Your new, realistic goal is to stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Think big picture. It’s not that serious. Just do what you do best, learn from your mistakes, and move on. 

This has been a great talk, Jasmine. I’m serious. It’s unbelievable how much you’ll change in only three or four years, so be very excited. 

Your hair’s going to grow like crazy and you’ll stop buying glasses that are wrong for your face shape. 

You’re going to ride around town on electric bikes, and obsess over finding one of your own every summer. Adulthood is going to be great. 

Your Future Self,


This post is part of my 30-Day Writing Challenge (Day 6).

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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