I recently read the letter I wrote to my future self during the freshman class retreat. The opening line read, “You better be valedictorian, or I will build a time machine and fight you.” Lofty ambitions for someone who couldn’t spell “valedictorian” correctly. This is probably the most on-brand thing for me I’ve ever witnessed. The 14-year-old version of me valued her intelligence and work ethic above everything else while still believing she was the most idiotic person on the face of the planet. It was pretty paradoxical. In freshman year, I was wrong about a lot of things, for example, Xavier doesn’t even have an official valedictorian, but I would have to agree that at that age I probably was one of the stupidest people in the world. I mean, isn’t every freshman?
Reading this letter gave me the chance to see how far I’ve come as a person. I could tell just from reading it, I was pretty annoying back then. Nowadays, I’m slightly less annoying. How’s that for character development?
In all seriousness, I believe I’ve grown into someone my younger self would be proud of. I’ve learned that it’s okay to take pride in my accomplishments instead of trying to find a flaw in every single thing I do. This year alone, I drove on the interstate multiple times without experiencing a soul-crushing panic, performed a jazz improv solo that didn’t sound like my trumpet was crying for help and got admitted into my dream school. I worked hard for what I achieved, so sometimes I do deserve to congratulate myself.
Along with that, I’ve learned it’s okay to mess up. I’ve always been a perfectionist, but now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t constantly beat myself up for my shortcomings, like that one time I ate dirt during a marching band competition, causing another member of the band to trip over me. (Sorry Justin.) I twisted my ankle because of that. I only lie awake at night contemplating the fact I sustained a marching band-related injury sometimes. On special occasions. For fun.
I’m still working on the whole self-confidence thing, but I’m miles better than where I was freshman year. I’m not hinging the entirety of my self-worth on one single success or failure anymore. I’m honestly happy with the person I am and that’s enough for me.
Although I may not be valedictorian, if my freshman year self could see me now, she wouldn’t find any reason to build a time machine and beat me up. Probably.