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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

A Letter to My Freshman Fall Self: Reese

I don't really know how to write this letter. I would like to think that is because there is nothing I'd change about my last three years at Darmouth, but it is probably more that I'm not ready to admit the things that I really messed up. I asked some friends, got some ideas about what to take back, do over and try again, but I still think that without every single mistake I made, I wouldn't have arrived at some sort of satisfaction.

Anyway, I'll give it a try.

Dear freshman fall Reese,

First, stop assuming that you are going to be perfectly happy. It is freshman fall, and you're surrounded by 4,000 people who really don't know you at all. Making real friends comes with time, and looking forward to winter break to see everyone you left at home is completely normal. As much as your type-A personality hates to admit it, going to college is not supposed to be smooth, flawless or comfortable. If you learn that Dartmouth isn't Hogwarts + Disneyland early enough, you'll save yourself three years of reflecting and reconsidering and trying to figure out what you're doing wrong before you realize that you were OK all along.

Next, clean your room. Your friends will not be happy when they finally do it for you eight weeks into the term, discovering that it is much more of a challenge than expected. Rachel and Jay I officially apologize for the upturned bag of candy corn and those 27 pairs of unfolded pants.

Remember that quote people always say the one about how "no one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep." Yeah, that's a lie. Looking back now, I think the nights I remember the best are the ones in which I went to sleep before midnight. Whether I missed a night out or a night studying, the sleep was always better. Except for rave. Never miss rave.

Go to yoga class.

Care a little more care a little less. Think about whatever seems important to you, whatever used to be important but doesn't seem so anymore and what doesn't seem important at all. Switch them around for a day, and you might find that you like your classes more than you thought and your long-distance relationship quite a bit less.

Be a studio art major.

Go outside. The climbing gym is literally 100 feet from your dorm. Then move out of the River immediately.

Stop talking about how busy you are and quit something. You're so addicted to being busy that you haven't stopped to think about what you really care about at all. You are going to spend the next three years switching from passive interest to passive interest until you settle on something or other, so you might as well quit everything now and give yourself some time to breathe.

Go to Scotland. Take that off-term in Alaska. And the one in Peru. Those will be the best parts.

Take every class Ronald Green teaches in the next four years. Afterwards, try (and fail) to convince your friends that Kierkegaard is still relevant, and write a religion thesis that no one even understands. Enjoy all of it.

Stop taking gov/econ classes. Your general apathy for politics and confusing wardrobe choices will keep you from working for the government, ever. You may think you want to be a gov major, but you are wrong!

Go home freshman summer. Staying at Dartmouth is the one big mistake you will make. You'll miss your mom too much. You'll miss your dog too much. Go home.

Lastly, tell that '12 from your FSP that you love him. Just do it.