Letters to my First-Year Self

To baby Kelly:

In so many ways, you will be the same in four years. You will graduate as the same awkward dork that you have always been. You’ll still make questionable life choices, and sometimes you’ll have worse judgement than a five-year-old. As always, you’ll continue to obnoxiously laugh at your own jokes without shame, because you think you’re super funny. You will still love to dance like a fool at almost any party and you’ll forever be kind of a dweeb. You’re always going to be high-wired with a lot of energy, and you’re still going to be the kind of person who always tries to give more than they take. You’ll work hard at everything and have the heart of a true athlete.

Ok, so let’s get down to some important business. It won’t take long for you will realize that you’re gay. Like really super gay. Actually, no … technically pan, but you’ll never really be sure which one because you fluctuate between the two all the time. Let’s just go with queer. That’s something you never really thought about a lot in high school. Yeah, you knew you weren’t straight, but you subconsciously tried to be. You’ve accumulated a lot of implicit messages about gender and sexuality. Great news: Now you can throw it all out the window. It’ll take a couple more years, but you’ll also shift how you think about your gender identity. Did you know that women actually don’t have to shave? Like it’s really not as big of a deal as a lot of people make it. Mind-blowing, right? There are no rules to gender, and the ones that you previously took to heart are false. You’ll make connections to when you were younger — times when you felt different but didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it. Mount Holyoke is the place where you’ll soon understand that people like you have existed all along.

You’ll also gain a new appreciation for the privilege of a college education that you currently take for granted. You’ve never questioned whether you were going to college, but you’ll learn that this is not everyone’s reality, or even an option for some people. Over your four years, you’ll be challenged to think more critically of the privileges that you hold on a variety of social levels. You’ll gain a greater awareness of the world from listening to the experiences of your professors and peers.

At the same time, you are going to face difficulties here. At least once a semester, you will question whether or not you belong here and highly consider dropping out. You will make it. At times, it might feel like swimming through an endless river of turd.  Just remember that the people who told you how tough you are weren’t lying. You’ll be fine. It also gets lonely here sometimes, so consider making more friends than you think you need. Keep in mind that not everyone is going to like you. I know you don’t want to accept it, but it’s true. Sometimes, you think it’s “cool” to put on an apathetic masquerade and pretend not to care. I can assure you that it is, in fact, “cool” to be passionate and care about things, but don’t get so caught up in everyone liking you. As Kid Cudi once said: “Haters shake my hand, but I keep the sanitizer on deck.” Serious words to live by, if I do say so myself.

Your experiences will also be much different than what you expect. Right now, you think that #trackislife, just because running around in circles has been your life since ninth grade. It’s not going to end that way, but you shouldn’t be disappointed — you’ll have so many amazing experiences, meet new people, and find new friends that you won’t meet without being open to change. It will take almost all four years, but you will eventually give yourself more credit for what you accomplish. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll still be cracking the same self-deprecating jokes and frequently referring to yourself as “self-described trash ™.” Also, this isn’t to say that you won’t acknowledge the people who will help you along the way — the people who you won’t make it without. You’ll certainly still owe so much to these positive influences as well. Yet, with this new confidence, you’ll be more prepared to leave Mount Holyoke than you think.


Luv ya #1 fan,

Kelly Stevens