A Letter to My Freshman Self: What I Wish I Would Have Known My Freshman Year of College
When I was first asked to write a letter to my freshman self, I thought it would be easy. My first attempt was chalked full of things like "wine before beer, you're in the clear" and "what ever you do, don't get bangs!" But, as I continued to think about chubby-cheeked freshman year me, I remember the breakdowns, the social anxiety and the feeling that I had to do everything on my own. To this breakout prone, awkward, and lovely teenage girl, I want to say this:
Dear Sweet, Naive, Freshman Year Carolyn,
Right now, you are feeling like a kid whose parents forgot to pick them up from summer camp. You are scared, nervous, and have no idea what you're doing.
First Semester is crazy man, but fun, crazy! You don't really have a routine yet (one day you're waking up at 6am the next you're waking up at 12:00pm?). There are no rules (you're eating ice cream for breakfast). You're sharing a room with a complete stranger and it feels like you're in some weird alternate universe or on some strange, permanent vacay.
You're new to this; it's ok to be new and freaked out a little. You won't be new for forever. You WILL make lasting friendships, you WILL figure out how to flip a cup on the first try, and you WILL grow into a successful functioning adult. For now, be patient and know that everyone around you is in feeling the exact same way (I promise). Give yourself a break and try to have fun!
Here are a couple things to keep in mind as you trudge though this first semester:
FIND A ROUTINE ASAP
Structure makes you feel safe. An easy way to add structure to your day is with an AM and PM routine. You don't have to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, let's be real here. But, when you do finally wake up, you'll know how to start your day:
1. Make yourself some coffee or tea
2. Wash your face (Pre-Req™ Invigorating Foaming Cleanser is my fave)
3. Brush your teeth
4. Moisturize (I like to use Cram Session™ Vitamin Infused Hydrating Lotion, which protects against blue light emitted from our devices)
5. Put on SPF (Spring Break™ Oil-Free Sunscreen works perfect as a makeup primer)
Establishing a nightly routine is crucial (I get it, some nights it may be harder to follow than others); it will save your skin from breakouts and calm your brain down before bed. No matter what time you get home or what state you get home in, always try to follow this routine:
1. Drink a full hydro flask
2. Take off all your makeup (use Cheat Sheet™ Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes)
3. Girl, Wash your face
4. Apply a moisturizer (you thirsty, dehydrated gal)
5. Brush your teeth
6. Drink another full hydro flask
Think of these morning and bedtime routines as "guiding rituals" for whatever the day brings. By doing them every day, you're setting yourself up for a great day or a great night's sleep. (Also, your older and wiser self will thank you for creating a habit of good skin care, trust me.)
Higher Education Skincare has an amazing Back to School Basics Kit with everything you need to start a healthy skincare routine. I honestly wish this kit existed when I was in college, it would have been a total lifesaver to my skin. The kit contains the perfect 3-step regimen that covers all the bases: cleansing, exfoliating, and hydrating. No B.S. or 13 step skincare routine that just isn't realistic to the post game day, insanely busy college lifestyle. College life is full of new things & new experiences that can cause some serious breakouts and stress on the skin. Having a solid skincare routine in place that specifically combats these new conditions is truly something I wish I would have done my freshman year in college.
BALANCE IS (MAJOR) KEY
In everything you do in college, try to find some balance. For every bad thing you put in your body/brain, put something good in there, too, to balance it out. For every expenditure of energy (and brain cells), make a deposit.
Balance booze with water, greasy late-night Jack in the Box tacos with veggies, late nights with eye cream & iced coffee, stress-induced breakdowns with calls to your hometown bff.
Above all, try to balance social time with quiet time (I know this is hard when there's like a million themed parties and endless homework assignments). This first semester is overwhelming. Your classes are filled with new people, the quad is packed with new faces, and your roommate doesn't use headphones. Remember to take some time for yourself -SELF CARE. Go on a walk everyday, take yourself on mini coffee dates, explore a nearby town. Light your favorite new fall-scented candle and give yourself a mini facial complete with cucumbers and Study Buddy™ Clarifying and Brightening Mask.
Use this alone time to check in with who you are and the little things that make you happy.
BE PATIENT. YOU'LL FIND YOUR SQUAD.
These friends you might be trying hard to fit in with, maybe your suite mates or your orientation friends... they may not be your squad. Don't beat yourself up for not being obsessed with Game of Thrones or the new Taylor Swift album. Don't pretend to like stuff that you simply don't. Just be you and be patient.
You will find friends that know all of your favorite songs by heart. They will teach you how to make the best drunk munchies AND binge Netflix with you when you're hungover. You'll find a squad that makes you feel a sense of home when you feel immensely homesick. They will challenge you when you need to be challenged. You will be each other's biggest cheerleaders and at times maybe not the best influences but from those times will come the best memories. These are the friends, ten years from now, whose kids will call you "Auntie." You will meet them, I promise.
TRY NEW THINGS
It's really easy to let fear and anxiety stop you from saying "YES" to new things; just the word "new" can be intimidating. The only way to find YOUR PEOPLE is to be brave. Say "yes" to hanging out with new people; try new food; go see a new band; go on a road trip... Expand your comfort zone; that's where you'll find bliss.
College is really your first opportunity to experience life outside of where you grew up. Make friends with people from places you've never heard of; ask your classmates about themselves and actually listen to the answers. You will make friends faster and you will learn something new.
Also don't be afraid to share your experiences and feelings. Be generous and open. If you are having a tough time, talk to your friends about it. Odds are they know exactly how you feel. The faster you do this the easier life at college will be. I promise you almost everyone is feeling the same way and you're not alone.
Freshman is year is the most incredible, overwhelming, fast-paced and difficult year of school. Enjoy and try to remember every wonderful and scary moment. You'll miss them later, I promise.
Glowing skin and confident, 28-year-old Carolyn