A Letter to my Freshman Fall Self: Jack
Dear freshman fall Jack,
How is everything going? Wait, don't tell me let me guess. I have a feeling I may have some idea of what you've been going through. Freshman fall has been a great time so far, hasn't it? Between meeting so many interesting new people, playing pong, classes (just kidding), the parties, no parents and communal bathrooms?
But there's been some trouble in paradise. Playing college lacrosse, your dream since you've been a little kid, didn't work out. You got cut from the team a few weeks ago. That really sucked, didn't it? But if that's the worst thing that's ever happened to you, you're a lucky man. And trust me when I say that it was all for the best. You weren't that great at lacrosse, anyway. Plus, remember that list you made the night you got cut, after a good cathartic cry and plaintive phone call home to the parents, the one with all the things you'd be able to do now that lacrosse wasn't an option? You'll get the opportunity to do many of those things and more. Dartmouth is a place of dizzying options. Keep trying to make the most of them.
I wonder what you're thinking about right now, ensconced in that cozy single in Bissell. Are you homesick? Are you hungover? Take it easy on the S.S. Pierce that stuff will make you blind. Whatever it is, I hope you're happy. Four years in Hanover beckon with the promise of a million possibilities. So many questions waiting to be answered. What should your D-Plan look like, and what should you do with it? Which fraternity should you join? What will your major be? Will you ever find a girl that you like, and miracle of miracles, actually likes you back? Will you ever find that bicycle seat someone stole last week? (The answer is yes they threw it on the roof of Cohen. What a bunch of animals.)
You will find it strange and surreal to arrive at your senior fall, wondering where the '12s are. Trust me when I tell you that your time at Dartmouth will whistle by in a blur. Try and remember as much as possible. Keep a journal, because you're going to change over the next 11 terms, and it will be good to know how and why. Don't stop trying to figure out who you are and what you're all about.
On a more prosaic note, use your NROs strategically, and start working on those distributive requirements now. Suck it up and take a TAS early on in the game. Your future self certainly would appreciate it.
Remember why you are here at Dartmouth and keep things in perspective. You're here to learn, in the broadest sense possible. A large part of that education will occur in the classroom, so make the most of it.
Don't procrastinate. As you likely have already learned, there are an infinite number ways to waste time, but there is no way to get it back. Alas, I am writing you this letter after the deadline, so I hardly practice what I preach, but do as I say, not as I do, and you'll be a happier man.
Seek out mentors among your professors and older friends. They possess hard-won wisdom through the living of life and are the most valuable resources you could have. Use them. Most professors are here because they want to help and guide you. Make up a question and go to office hours.
Call your parents and tell them how you're doing. Thank them for making this incredible journey possible. Call your sisters and your grandparents, too. At the end of the day, they're all you can ever really count on. Don't forget to tell them that you love them.
Oh, the places you'll go. Although you will undoubtedly receive a great deal of knowledge from the reading of books and endless PDFs of scholarly articles, you will learn far more outside of the classroom. Get out of Hanover and escape its myopic worries as often as you can. Go up to the north country and spend as much time as possible there. You will find more meaning in the great north woods than you will in any book you read for class.
Go abroad and travel. See the world. It's a crazy place and the grown-up challenges of the "real world" will make you appreciate Hanover and its myopic worries all the more.
Lastly, remember that the poverty of time makes beggars of us all. Don't let anything slip away.
Even though sometimes I'm not your biggest fan, and sometimes I even hate you a little bit both for what you do and what you don't do I still love you. Keep your head up, kid.
**Your friend from the future,