I know, I know. You’re an introvert, right?

girl hiding behind book shy introvert ugly scared boring crazy

via weheartit.com

Dear College Freshman,

Three years ago, this day seemed like an eternity away.

The 18-year-old girl curled up on her twin bed and faced the white drywall, sobbing into a pillow and praying her roommate was fast asleep.

She was 300 miles away from anyone who ever cared about her and sure she’d lost her friendship-building skills somewhere on the kindergarten playground.

College was just a bigger version of high school with a couple thousand feet of classrooms and a couple thousand faces she didn’t know.

It took 4 years for her to navigate the rough waters of high school and, she was sure, it’d take another 4 for her to do the same with college.

That, dear freshman, was her biggest mistake.

It’s easy to feel intimidated by a school with 18,000 strangers, but it’s hard to be too worried in a school with 18,000 friends.

It’s easy to believe those 4 years will beat you up and leave you lonely and bleeding in an alleyway somewhere.

Loneliness is beat out by one, and only one, thing—constantly surrounding yourself with people.

I know, I know.

You’re an introvert, right?

You want to stay in your dorm room and keep the door locked because that small talk conversation you might have with a hall mate about the kid in your science lab who keeps clearing his throat loudly is just painfully awkward.

I know.

I so know.

How badly do I know.

But there are people like me, seniors who haven’t had to restructure their whole lives to fit in, who are cheering on the sidelines of your life.

We’re waiting for you to do big things and share your thoughts and contribute because we know a secret you don’t: your thoughts are going to change the future.

You’re going to make the world a better place by being in it and living in it.

Not just hiding in your dorm room with ear buds in so no one can tell you’re in there.

Not in the study corral that’s tucked away in the back corner of the library where nobody thinks to hide out.

Not where the world can’t see you shine or hear your music or feel your soul.

No, my darling. You’ve got to step into the sunlight and risk getting a bit of a burn. You’ll be a tremendous asset to the rest of humanity if you do.

Progress comes from screwing up all the time. For three years, I’ve screwed up. And I’ll continue to do so. Not just for one more year, but for the rest of my life.

I’ll screw up and I’ll tell someone the wrong deadline for something I need. It’ll fall back on me. I’ll misunderstand an assignment and do it all wrong. I’ll pretend I know what I’m doing when, in reality, I haven’t the slightest idea.

We all fall down sometimes.

Oh freshman, would you believe me if I said I just want to be your friend?

So badly, I want to take you out for a cup of tea and let you know it’s going to be OK.

But mostly, I want to hear your side of the story.

I want to see the light shine in your eyes when you talk about why you chose this university and what you want to do in four years. I want to hear your plans.

You might not feel like anyone’s listening. Your parents pushed you to apply for scholarships and honors programs and take SAT prep courses and finally you’re starting to breathe and you’d rather be top dog in a small town again.

Guess what?

That’s over for a long time.

But I’m right here. Waiting for you to shuffle up to me with your map and a confused look on your face. I’ll point you in the right direction and take a snapshot of you in my head as you are now.

Because in 4 years, you’ll be someone else.

Someone new.

Squeeze time out of every day. Let busy become your best friend. Hold onto the ones you love—back home and here—and remember them always.

Learn how to talk and walk and communicate in transit. For four solid years, you’ll be in transit.

But I have a bus schedule and I’m waiting for you to show up with a helpless look so we can begin to understand each other.

Mostly, though, don’t underestimate yourself.


12 responses to “I know, I know. You’re an introvert, right?

  1. I love this post so much!!

  2. Pingback: I know, I know. You’re an introvert, right? | College Life- Sex and Relationships

  3. Kay:
    I have no regrets in life (you know that’s my rule!) but I do have wishes, and I wish I had known the college-senior you when I was college-freshman me. I wish I could have heard your words, felt them, tucked them away deep in my pocket to pull them out when I needed them most. You are brave and talented and deeply generous. These traits alone makes this world (at least my corner of it) a better place. One more wish – I wish you all the best in your final undergrad year.
    Love you always,

  4. oh kay, i needed this. as a girl who just moved to the opposite ends of the country, to starting a new school, new job, new life, this is so apt right now. thank you for letting me know that courage is the best thing i can wear everyday. too perfect. xoxox

  5. This post is more universal then you probably realize…it’s as appropriate for a freshman venturing into new territory as it is for someone moving to another area, starting a new job, or making any other life change. Hope is something we can all use a little more of, at any stage in our lives! Thanks for another inspiring message.

  6. I wish someone had written me this when I started uni 🙂 But it is still wonderfully inspiring and extremely touching, even for someone who has graduated.
    “We’re waiting for you to do big things and share your thoughts and contribute because we know a secret you don’t: your thoughts are going to change the future. You’re going to make the world a better place by being in it and living in it.”
    I am going to stick this quote above my desk!

  7. That seems to be the trend. I don’t think we can ever know, at 18, what we’ll feel and know at 21 or 22. It’s just impossible and frustrating. I’m honored to have made an impact though. Truly honored.

  8. I try to write what I know, and hope it translates across multiple levels of life. Sadly, hope is something a lot of us don’t have.

  9. I have so much faith in you, Mackenzie. So much. You’re bold and much cooler than I am haha and, based on your tweets and such, loving Boston and all its given you. I hope you hold onto that courage because you’re going to do some big, big things, girl. I know it.

  10. I think we both wish that. You’ve certainly turned out to be absolutely wonderful though. Some small part of me thinks those who make it through any and all sorts of not-so-nice situations come out on top. It’s the easy, lazy ride that’s where the character-building gets lost.

  11. Thanks, Emily. I hope it spoke to the introvert in you. 🙂

  12. “Progress comes from screwing up all the time.”

    I agree with @Ginny, this post translates easily. I just moved to a new country where they don’t speak English. For the first 4 weeks I have no really been talking just because I don’t want to make a mess of the words. Today I started talking. Yes its a mess, but I get understood.

    “Mostly, though, don’t underestimate yourself.”

    I’m neither a freshman, or an introvert; but we all face fear sometimes… it’s what we do in the face of fear that counts.

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