Things I Wish I had Known Earlier

letter to younger self Dear 18-year-old Alina,

Hi! Just checking in with you. This is your 21-year-old self. Right now I’m set to graduate, and I will be turning 22 in a few short months, which I’m excited for. You don’t know this yet, but Taylor Swift is going to release a really catchy song about being 22, and you will love it.

Okay, so I’m getting side-tracked. Younger Alina, I wanted to give you some advice for the rest of your undergraduate career here at UCSC. These are things that I wish I could have known, things I wish I could have told you earlier. Unfortunately, I know you’re not going to get this letter because time-travel hasn’t been invented yet… Hopefully, the people who actually read this post will appreciate my advice.

1) Believe in yourself and trust your intuition. Younger Alina, I know you. Underneath your cocky facade, you have the self esteem of a dried up wasabi pea and you’re constantly selling yourself short. At this point in your life, you haven’t found your niche of close friends yet, and you aren’t the best with romantic relationships. Don’t stick with people who try to pressure you into things you aren’t comfortable with. Don’t date someone if you feel like you’re trapped. You definitely don’t need this kind of drama in your life. I mean, if your intuition is making you feel suspicious, trust it. Put yourself out there and be open. It’s okay to pursue new friendships and relationships if you want to and it makes you happy.

2) Make contingency plans. Younger Alina, I know you really want to go to graduate school right after graduating from college. In fact, you will exhaust yourself by maintaining a high GPA and taking on multiple leadership positions so you can be an extra competitive grad school applicant. HOWEVER… realize that even though you’re a good student, things still might not go according to plan. Graduate school is highly competitive, and you might get rejected. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of your journey. Instead, try thinking of other options or jobs you can apply for. You can always reapply next year!

3) Get help for yourself and explore your resources. At this point, Younger Alina, you don’t even know where CAPS is. You also feel suspicious of counseling and think you’re perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. But… talking to someone about your loneliness and getting advice for dealing with your stress would have helped you out a LOT. Yeah, you eventually figured it out, but I know that talking to a counselor would have been a huge help back then. Look online. Explore the CAPS website and the UCSC Career Center.

This is all my advice for now. I want you to know that you are loved, you will succeed, and you will try out things you never dreamed of doing. It’ll be great. I wish you the best of luck!