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Dear Eighteen-Year-Old Me: You Still Have So Much to Learn

RU Student Life
Sep 23, 2015 · 5 min read

by Jessica Myshrall, Storyteller for RU Student Life

It’s August 2011 and you are on an overnight bus headed to Toronto. You’ve been waiting for this moment for as long as you can remember, but before you arrive at Bay Street, there are a few important things that you are going to learn in the next four years that I want to tell you about.

Mom started crying when you got on the bus and so did you. You’ve had your disagreements (read: door-slamming screaming matches), but that will all melt away when you put 1400 km between you. She will call you almost daily, and after a couple of years, you will be calling her just as often. As you grow older, you will come to appreciate what an amazing person she is and even start to say it to her face. She is going to become your best friend and your university friends will find it hard to believe that it wasn’t always feelings of pure admiration between the two of you.

You just broke up with your high school sweetheart of two years because you knew in your heart that after spending an entire summer away from him that you have (though you won’t admit it right now) outgrown the relationship. You feel brave and detached right now, but you’re going to get back together in a few weeks because you’re too scared to lose him. It won’t work in the long run because while he might have been the perfect boyfriend, he’s no longer the perfect boyfriend for you. He’s going to take someone else to his prom and your last conversation will take place in a tent at someone’s grad party while you are crying and also incredibly intoxicated, ultimately sacrificing your last shreds of dignity. You will feel humiliated about this for a long time. Five or six months later, you will hear through the grapevine that he has a new girlfriend and you will be sad for a while, but you will eventually move on as well. You won’t be in touch or even see each other again, except to extend brief salutations on your respective birthdays via Facebook. You’re okay with this because you’re different people now. You’ll even get over the fact that he didn’t take you to his prom. In fact, until this moment, you haven’t thought about it in maybe about a year.

As you approach the first major stepping stone in your journey through life, you will quickly realize that leaving home wasn’t quite as easy as you had anticipated. You will meet a few of your long time university friends in the upcoming weeks, but you won’t cross the line out of superficiality until your second year. This may be because you are spending all of your down time trying to stay connected to your friends from home through Facebook. I won’t tell you who you are going to fall out of touch with over the next couple of years because it would crush you, but trust me, by the time it happens, you will come to realize that the foundation of your friendship was built on nothing more than your shared geographical location and mutual appreciation for humour. You will think often about the memories you made with them, but will find great people to fill the void they’ve left in your hopelessly nostalgic heart. You will meet people in the next couple of years who are going to have more in common with you than anyone you’ve ever known before. They will be your people. The friends you did manage to keep in touch with, however, will always be the highlight of your visits home.

You’re going to fall deeply in love with one of your dearest friends and even though it will end in complete emotional turmoil, you will still find yourself smiling when you think of the magical first months of your relationship. You are going to forget what you learned while with your high school boyfriend and commit to a long distance relationship while you follow your dreams to Europe for eight months. The distance will take your shiny new romance and beat it to a pulp with the harsh realities of life. Regardless of the damages incurred, you will each do everything in your power to hold your relationship together because you haven’t yet learned that, contrary to the wisdom of The Beatles, love isn’t the only ingredient necessary to make it work. He will move to Toronto when you return from France and will be there for you when Grandma dies, reminding you that he will always be someone you can count on. Differences between the two of you that you failed to notice during the beginning stages of your relationship will become apparent and after a couple of months, you will override your fear of losing his friendship and of what everyone else will think of you and move out of the apartment you shared. After eight months, he will contact you to let you know that he’s moving home and you, more easily than you both had imagined, will start working towards rebuilding your friendship. The stagnant anger that solidified in your heart will melt away almost immediately and you’ll realize that while the two of you weren’t meant for each other romantically, you belong in one another’s lives.

Grandma’s death is going to be a painful reminder that the people you love will eventually die, no matter how much you still need them. You will be halfway to Toronto when she dies, so please cherish every moment you share with her. Be patient with her when she asks what time you’re going to be home from school; she only wants to keep you safe. Give her a big hug and kiss for me when you get to Toronto. Tell her you love her.

You won’t figure out where you belong at Ryerson until your final year, which will make having to take a fifth year feel more like a personal choice than the result of switching programs and going abroad. It will be the first time in your life that you don’t feel like running at full force towards your next big adventure. It will be a new feeling, so it will scare you a little bit, but you know that someday you will look upon these days and will want to tell yourself that there was nothing to worry about. You still have so much to learn.

With love,

Twenty-two-year old you.

A Look Back

Reflections on experience had.

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