What I wish I’d known as an incoming freshman

Shae Slaughter

Looking back now, it’s hard to picture myself as a freshman in college. I can remember the exploration of campus, choosing classes and being overwhelmed by all of the new people, but it still feels like a whole other world. Even now, I can’t believe that a young girl like me was asked to choose her whole future at that moment in time. 

If I could speak to 17-year-old me, I would have a whole lot to say. First, I would explain that despite what everyone says, you don’t need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life before you even graduate high school. You are in no way equipped to know how you or your mind will change as you age, especially before you even have a chance to explore the world. 

Unlike a lot of people, I came into college with a declared major. I also haven’t changed my major, which is even weirder for a college student. I do love English, and I’m happy that I picked it as my major because reading, words and writing all make me happy. However, just last year I picked up a minor in political science, and I think I could have been just as happy majoring in that. I never would have guessed that at 17.

I would also urge my teenage self to trust my own heart. Though young, teenage me didn’t know much, I still knew myself better than anyone else could. Being 17 isn’t easy. Constant changes in your life, your school, your friends and yourself make you continually question your plans as you move forward. However, you should choose to live, to learn and to follow your heart.

This held true for me when it came to picking my school, transferring to another school, moving, finding employment and a whole slew of other things. I can’t imagine any of it happening any other way. Don’t get me wrong, 17-year-old me, you’re going to suffer heartbreaks and failures. You’re going to succeed and you’re going to smile. All in all, you’re going to figure it out.

The last thing I would tell my 17-year-old self to do would be to really value my time on this earth and value the people with whom I am spending it. In the last four years, I have lost far too many people, both from mistakes and from death. If I could have known then what I know now, I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have spent more time with people, and I would have chosen to handle things in a different way. It’s easy now to focus in on the “what ifs,” but I suppose that’s life.

I don’t regret the last four years because they have brought me to where I am now, and I am truly happy. Of course, there are decisions that I could have made differently and probably should have (like dying my hair dark brown), but I know so much more because of them. And now, I am looking forward to the future and all it has to offer.