An Open Letter to 18-Year-Old Me
By Stefi Markowicz, Director of Communication for Quotes, the PR Club at UCF
College Decision Day, 2016
Everything I wish I knew then, now.
Dear younger me,
If you’re reading this letter, I have successfully transcended the scientific laws of the universe and traveled back in time to get this communication to you. It’s me, Stefi. Just a little older and a little wiser. I’m here because I know you have a lot of questions. I know how nervous you are about starting college. You can’t predict the future, and I know that that scares the heck out of you. But I also know that everything is going to be all right – take some advice from the future 20-year-old, about-to-graduate-from-UCF you.
I just want to start off by telling you that you did a pretty good job at this whole life thing. Navigating college on your own away from home is no small feat. Maybe next time, try not to procrastinate on your assignments as much, and try to balance your meals a bit better, but overall, a pretty dang good job.
Speaking of jobs, you got a whole lot of ‘em since you started college. I mean, c’mon, seven internships in two-and-a-half years? Girl, you’re crazy. But in all seriousness, that’s an incredible accomplishment. You sacrificed so much of your own free time to advance in your professional career and create a personal brand. For that, I’m so proud.
Also, good on you for joining Quotes your freshman year and making it all the way to the executive board. This experience will help you meet so many fantastic people, and you might just win yourself a couple of awards and scholarships along the way.
Looking back, however, you might want to consider setting some time aside for yourself. Trust me, I know it’s hard when you have to juggle four classes, multiple jobs, an officer position, homework, friends, and family, but one of the key lessons you’ll learn soon is balance. Work hard, but also make time for self-care. Maintain your happiness and keep your well-being in check.
And don’t sweat the small stuff. I promise it’s not the end of the world if you get a ‘C’ on a test. Those things might seem dauntingly important right now, but no one is ever going to ask you why you don’t have a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Network as often as you can, no matter how tiring it gets. The connections you make now will create the foundation that will support you throughout your career. You might not see results right away, and this might make you feel like giving up – don’t.
Some more miscellaneous advice: Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Be hungry for knowledge. There are resources on campus for you – use them. Try to get more sleep. Don’t let the fact that the class starts at 8:30 a.m. deter you from taking it. Get involved in as many extracurriculars as you can. Take a weekend trip every once in a while. Make an effort to get to know your professors. Change is OK, and often, it’s a good thing. Always buy your textbooks used and then sell them. Strive to learn something new every day. Never stop applying to scholarships. And lastly, college goes by quickly … enjoy every second of it.
Well Stefi, you’ve handled this wild ride like a champ. I might have been able to travel back in time to get you this letter, but I definitely don’t have a crystal ball to be able to tell you your future. I just really hope that you’ll make use of all of the lessons you’ve learned throughout your time at UCF.
So here I am, writing to you, almost a college graduate. If nothing else in this letter sticks with you, I want you to remember one thing: you are an intelligent and resourceful young woman with an incredibly bright future. Dream big, because no mountain is too high for you. Love yourself for who you are every day, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. And when you lose yourself in other people’s expectations, forgive yourself and find your way back to you.
You’ll thank me later.