You know very well that it’s probably into the wee hours of the night. You tried sleeping at a reasonable time because you know you’ll have to wake up before the sun does. Lucky for you, your mind is still running at a million miles so it looks like it is going to be a venti instead of a tall chai tomorrow.
I guess I’m writing this because I wish I could tell this to freshman year you. More importantly, you’re at that point where the real world isn’t too far away, and you’re going to jump through a little grown up version of some very similar hoops.
Things are going to be different. They will be scary and exciting. They will make you cry and call home but also laugh and love your friends.
So as you push through a tougher semester, I hope this helps get you through.
No number of A’s, extracurriculars, parties, relationships, or offers will make you love yourself. There is no job or title that will make it easier to get up in the morning and no number of likes that will help you sleep at night. People will judge you for the choices you make: what you choose to do and what you choose not to. So long as you can live with yourself, you’ll be okay. You may never be the smartest or the best no matter how many hours you put in and that is okay. You will make so many mistakes along the way and that too is okay (so long as you don’t repeat them!).
You need to learn to live with yourself. Get out of bed in the morning because today is another day that you have to power to decide what to do. Do you want to spend six hours in the library, kitchen, or the dance floor? Are you rocking sweatpants or Tom Ford (or Tory Burch I guess..)? Is today a day for Cheetos or chapathis? Broccoli, Beiler’s, or both? You choose. Go to sleep at night because you have been up the entire day, and your body needs it.
When you look in the mirror, you’ll notice that your tummy is a little bigger or your thighs jiggle, and you’ll feel sad. Her thighs don’t jiggle. Her stomach is flat. But whoever she is. You’re not her, and she’s not you. (p.s. patriarchal and hyper-competitive norms have also taught you to constantly compare/compete with other women, but you have to fight it.)
You don’t have to look like a model, but you have to feel like one. Listen to your body. Eat when it’s hungry, but stop when it’s full. Workout when it’s energized, but rest when it’s tired. Sexy is not an aesthetic; it’s an emotion.
You may never be the special snowflake that you have been taught to aspire to, but never doubt that you are far more privileged than a majority of the population and have had opportunities far beyond your years.
While you will feel insecure and second guess yourself, live with the same energy you feel on the dance floor. It is natural to fear what other people may think about you, but never change yourself to win their approval. No matter how confident they make look, the person right next to you is probably coping with it too (especially at Penn).
Always stay humble, but never apologize unnecessarily.
Surround yourself with good people, but learn to be alone.
I can never force you to do anything, but I hope you can love yourself as much as I love you right now.