A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

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Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

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Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

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Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

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All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Source: barbwire.com

Source: barbwire.com

My friend The Modern Philosopher recently wrote about an unpleasant dream he had involving his ex-wife, who he doesn’t normally think about in his waking life. This post got me thinking about the dreams I’ve been having recently.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Over the past couple of weeks, no matter how positive my thoughts are during the day, and no matter how distracted I am from my breakup with my cheating ex, he still makes an appearance in my dreams.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I wake from a dream involving someone I am trying to pretend never existed, it can start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up and falling asleep are the times when I have to work the hardest to control and challenge my negative thoughts. Having dreams that cause negative thoughts don’t help me.

While some psychologists believe that dreams are only random neuron firings and don’t actually hold any true meaning, I disagree. If our dreams are random images that our brain puts together, I don’t believe that this theory explains recurring dreams, nightmares, or having dreams about our exes. I have always believed that my dreams mean something.

Source: themarkeworld.com

Source: themarkeworld.com

Keeping this in mind, my dreams can have an impact on my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. I am learning how to breathe after all, and waking up from dreams of my ex makes it harder for me to think realistically. The dreams send my brain on a whirlwind of blurry, negative thoughts that only make me angry over situations out of my control.

Here are the dreams that have recently been causing me the most stress:

1. My ex emailed me to say that he had been secretly sleeping with two other girls, not just one. In the dream, I knew who the second girl was (I’m not sure of her identity in real life), and she lived in my town. I went to find her and asked her, “Are you sleeping with Bobby?” She said she was, and I gave her the heads up that he was also sleeping with another girl (the real Other Woman, Lacy). The girl told me she was done with him, and we both agreed that he was a jerk.

Even though this dream felt like I was seeking revenge for what he did, and I was gaining allies in the dream, I still woke up feeling angry and depressed.

2. My ex and I emailed each other civilly, giving updates on our lives. We were becoming “friends.”

I woke up and realized that the dream was unrealistic. I’ve never been able to be friends with my exes, and I feel the same way with my most recent breakup. I believe that I could only be friends with an ex if we parted on relatively “good” terms, with a minimal amount of bitterness or hurt feelings.

3. I learned intimate details about my ex and Lacy. I searched through social media and they were open about their relationship. Bobby and Lacy seemed like a happy couple.

This dream is fuzzy, but there may have been instances in the dream in which I reached out to Lacy and she gave me details about her new relationship with Bobby. All I know is that the dream involved answers to many of the burning questions that eat at me in my waking life.

Dreams are not real.

Source: dreamanity.com

Source: dreamanity.com

So why do they bother me so much?

My theory is that my dreams are the thoughts I suppress during the day. While I know that the details of Bobby’s relationship with Lacy don’t matter because we are broken up and our relationship was no longer healthy, the thoughts of her still bother me. I’m currently trying to challenge these thoughts and make them more realistic ones, but these dreams make the task more difficult.

My dreams are situations that scare me. They are what happens when my anxious mind runs away with me. These dreams are the result of losing control of my negative thoughts. When I’m awake, I have an easier time controlling my negative thoughts. I’m aware of them, at least. When I’m sleeping, the imaginary situations play over and over. My worst fears are real life in my dreams.

Since I’m still learning how to breathe, I’ve realized that the times it’s most crucial is when I wake up from disturbing dreams. I just need to learn how to start off my day with realistic thoughts instead of obsessing over dreams that trigger negativity.

I’m focusing my energy on challenging every negative thought I have and turning it into a realistic one. I’m hopeful that as I practice this, my dreams will also become less negative.

Honestly, I forgot how painful dreams can be during the breakup process. Dreams are my hopes, wishes, and repressed thoughts from my waking life. Seeing exes in my dreams recalls all the thoughts I’ve been trying to forget.

While time doesn’t erase memories, it can dull the pain. Over time, dreams change as my thoughts change. Someday, my dreams will no longer be about him, or at least not quite as often. The process may be slow, but I’m proud of the progress I have made. I have come so far from the dark hole I was in a couple months ago, when the events were fresh. Now, I’m looking at the situation with a more realistic perspective.

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Source: iama.be

As long as I keep moving away from my past and into a healthier future, I am going to focus on not letting my dreams drag me further down. I’m going to keep working to build myself up, because I know I deserve it.