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Jan 9 / Audrey Johnson

new year thoughts: letter to a freshman me

Happy New Year and happy start of a new semester! As my last semester as a student at Wayne State, I feel excited to make the most of my last few months here. Reflecting on the past few years, I have learned so much about myself and who I want to be, and also have realized there is so much more I do not know. As a way to reflect on my own time here and my growth as a person, and also in hopes of reaching out to students just starting their journey in college, I want to write a letter to myself as a freshman, in my first semester at Wayne State. I hope you can gain something from this as well. So, retrospectively speaking from the present me, to the past 18 year old me, here goes.

Dear You,

Here you are, starting your time at Wayne State. You didn’t think you would end up here, and you’re feeling stressed about how things are going to work out. You’re living away from home, which isn’t a new thing, but living in a dorm with people around you all the time is a new and sometimes anxiety creating thing. You have a lot of ideas about what being a dance major might be, but you have no idea of all that being a dancer can be (and you still don’t know it all). You’re questioning your purpose, you’re questioning yourself, you’re questioning your decisions. I can tell you a few things. Significantly: whatever you are questioning, you are going to be okay.

You’ll meet so many people, and become immersed in a community of artists and young people at school and in and around Detroit. Don’t worry if the first people you meet your freshman year don’t become your friend group immediately. You are on your way to making some of the best friendships of your life: these people will hold you up, inspire you, bring joy to your life, and help you be a better person.

You will learn to appreciate your parents so much more than you did as a kid. You will learn that though you sometimes might not feel on the same page as them, your bond with them is ever important. At times the roles might switch, your parents as the ones that need your help, and when this happens, you show up 100%, and you’ll be a better person because of it.

You will dance. A lot. You will sweat, be sore, cry, laugh, scream, get injured, heal, get injured again, heal again, persevere, grow, get paid, create, improvise, improve, become exhausted, become inspired, and continue to persevere, all because of dance. You will learn that dancing will not be an easy life to pursue, but there is nothing else that makes so much sense for you to do.

You will also learn that you like a lot of things other than dance. Though dance is your major, you will begin to see that your interests are varied and that pursuing them is worthwhile. And also: don’t dread taking your science general education requirement, because learning about geology is actually really really cool.

You  will learn the importance of self care. Taking care of your body is an ongoing commitment to yourself, and no one else is going to do it for you. You can’t show up for other people if you can’t first show up for yourself. Value what you eat, how you treat your body when it’s tired, how you talk to yourself mentally,  how you schedule your time, and overall, value yourself.

You will learn that you have so so so much left to learn. Be present and find pleasure and growth out of all you do. Know that things will be difficult, but that is just the nature of being a human. Accept discomfort and do your best, and remember that whatever it is, you will probably be okay.

Relax a bit, say hi to someone, be kind to others and yourself, eat good food, and do your best. You’re here now so enjoy it!