The Fourth Estate

Dear Freshman Selves,

Class of 2018

It’s been a long four years. We know that you probably don’t want to read this because you think that you’re so cool, and you’re in high school now, and you’re basically an adult, but we ask that you please do read this because, in the epic four-year-long rollercoaster ride that we’ve just endured, we’ve learned a lot of things that you might want to hear.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are not the king or queen of the world, so don’t behave like it. Find it within yourself to be kind to everyone, whether you like them or not. These are the people who you are going to spend most of your time with for the next four years, so act accordingly. Start conversations. Get to know the other students, teachers, and especially, the campus dogs.
Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself — it only shows that you’re human. You won’t regret the stupid things you’ll do — and you will do plenty of stupid things. You will regret the things that you want to do but that you don’t — the musicals you never try out for, the teams you never join, the crushes you never ask out.
That said, don’t waste your time trying to please other people. You are your own person, so realize it, and act like it. Speak and act in accordance with who you want to be, and live without shame or regret. We know how much you’re trying to fit in, and that’s fine, but don’t change yourself to do so. Embrace what makes you different, and love it, even if other people don’t. At a certain point, you will realize that the cool kids are not happier than the ones whose identities do not involve drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Don’t spend all of your time working. As you move through high school, things are just going to get more and more difficult. Sooner than you think, you’re going to start taking APs and applying to college, and you’re going to get caught in a downward spiral of homework and personal essays, so embrace the time you have without these things, and have some fun, be spontaneous, and enjoy having your parents drive you around (they’re like your personal, free chauffeurs, so don’t forget to thank them once in a while).
Don’t try to be too cool for school. We know that we just told you to have some fun, but that does not mean that school doesn’t matter. Find something to be passionate about: it can be anything from moth evolution to photography, but just be a nerd about something; we don’t care what. Being passionate about one or two or three things, whether or not they’re school-related, is what makes you stand out, and not just on a college application. And, please, always thank your teachers — the time and energy that you put into learning (or trying not to learn), they spend teaching you and grading the probably horrible essays you write.
Don’t spend your four years just trying to please colleges by taking classes that don’t interest you and doing activities that are not you. Your parents will think that these years are a means to an end — getting into a good college and setting yourself up for a successful ‘real life’. But these years are more than that. High school is a life within a life, like no other. You get to be whoever you want to be: an actor, musician, athlete, journalist, or all of the above, with no competition and no commitment. You get to go to school dances. You get to be young. You never get that back. Spending all your time and energy on a ‘perfect’ application won’t help you. A well-rounded person who truly embraces his or her life and passions is more appealing to colleges than a flawless application, anyway.
Most importantly, don’t forget to be happy. High school goes by faster than you realize, so enjoy it. Enjoy being in beautiful Hope Ranch, enjoy spending time with your friends and enjoy living with your family. Appreciate the little things and realize that you are so, so lucky to be where you are.

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Dear Freshman Selves,