A letter to 18 year-old me

If I could turn back time and give advice to my younger self

Dear Elie,

Now that you are going to start college, I would like to give you some advice. First, and foremost, be you. Do not ever forget who you are, where you came from, and your principles in life. You might think you’ve experienced a lot in your life, but behold, take a deep breath, you are going to have the best time of your life in college.

Do not be scared to raise your hand in class, and do not feel reluctant to speak up because you think people are going to make fun of your accent. Do not get anxiety when you do presentations. For god’s sake! You’re going to switch your major to journalism and communication studies, so you’ll get over all these inhibitions. Speeches and essays will become your bitch, literally.

You will meet people of different walks of life: the good, the bad, the vacation friends, the professional connections, the people you want to use, the people you want to love, the people you desire, the good-times-only people, and the people you want to hold onto for the rest of your life. Surround yourself by positive people.

You’ll experience a lot of things for the first time ever, you’ll see things like you’ve never seen them before. And when change comes, see if you like it; and if it works, embrace it. Sometimes, you are going to be the change. So be the change.

The next few years are going to decide what your future will be. You’re not going to stay the shy old Elie. You will open up, and people will love you. For the first time, someone will think about you as a significant other. You will be seen as a handsome guy with a big heart. Friends will invite you to parties, you will invite people to parties, you’ll travel for a little and you will feel like life has finally worked out. So live life to the max.

One thing I should remind you of, though, is give time to your family. Your family needs you, and you need them too. Stop acting like you do not need them. Talk to your dad more often, ask your mom if she needs help with anything, take your sister out, and remind your brother that he is precious to you.

Study hard. That doesn’t mean you have to memorize everything, but keep onto the good information because knowledge is the only thing you’ll always have no matter what.

Most of all, be proud of who you are, of your family, of your heritage, of your knowledge. Always try to make a difference in people’s lives and do not settle for anything less than the best.


23-year-old Elie on his graduation day