And They're Off! (To College)

Last year I was invited back to my AP English teacher's classes to speak to them about college. I spoke to them at the end of my first semester, which, in my head, went pretty well. Now, two years in, my experience is much different. In the time since I last spoke in her classes all of this happened:

- I fell in love
- Twice
- Got my heartbroken
- Twice
- And thrice
- I cut off 9 inches of hair
- Twice? (well I haven't decided yet)
- I got my first F
- I got three more
- I cried in front of an academic professional
- I failed out of college
- I got a second chance
- I learned the value of second chances
- I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression
- Someone I knew was sexually harassed and I felt responsible
- I learned how to budget my "funny money"
- I overdrafted my bank account
- A lot
- I learned how to stop a panic attack
- I learned how to blow dry my hair
- I leaned the value of regular skin care
- Found new interests
- Found friends
- Lost friends
- Found a good pair of heels

All that, and definitely a lot more that I couldn't think of. Now that I'm being asked back to speak again, I don't even know what to talk about.

I don't want to come in all doom and gloom and scare the shit out of these poor kids. That being said, I don't want to be all happy, sunshine, and daisies and pretend that the real world isn't real. I'm actually really struggling to figure out what to say to these students. I want to warn them about the dangers of risky behavior, but I always want to keep it light and let them know that college is a good time. I tried to think back to the questions I had, but honestly can't remember what I wanted to know..

I'm just going to jump in here and  come up with a little rough draft type thing. Here goes:

Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be back and speaking to you guys today. I spoke to the classes last year, and I have to say, I have definitely learned a lot since then, so you guys are getting the better speech. My name is (anonymous!) and I'm going to be a junior at American University in Washington DC. Any other future DC students here? Yes? No? Awesome! What school? (bla bla bants). Okay, back to what I was saying. I'm a Political Science major, big shocker. I have a focus in American Government. I am also working towards a certificate in Women, Politics, and Political Leadership. I also have a big interest in foreign policy regarding Russia, and what I guess you could call military policy. Outside of politics, I don't do much. No, I'm kidding. I also like to run, I practice yoga, very badly, but it counts, I write a little bit, and I read a lot in my spare time. I also spend a lot of time on Netflix, but I probably shouldn't tell you all that.
Okay, now that I'm done talking about myself, I'll get to my little spiel. I'll try to keep it short and sweet, no promises, and then afterwards, you can ask me any questions you have. Before I jump in, I want to start with saying that everyone's college experience is different. You might get to college, and be like, wow that girl was totally off, what the heck. This is just me sharing what I've learned so far with you to give you an idea going into it all.
So I'm going to start off a little bit deep here, but I promise it's not all doom and gloom!
College is definitely a difficult adjustment for anyone. Even if you're staying local, it's really hard to take the same schedule that you've had for, like, 13 years, and just turn it upside down. No one tells you when or what to eat, no one reminds you about homework, and one I really struggled with, no one reminds you to sleep. It's definitely a lot of fun. But you have to be careful and make sure than the college diet, late nights, and forgotten assignments don't pile up. One big problem that a lot of people struggle with in college is stress affecting their mental health. I was going to bring all these statistics and stuff, but I figured it would be more real to talk about it honestly. Mental health carries a pretty big stigma for a lot of people, myself included. It can be very hard to come to terms with things like that, but I can now tell you guys that I've had problems with stress affecting me in college. And it's not something to be ashamed of. When I first realized there was a problem, I did the really smart thing, and I didn't tell anyone. Not my brightest plan. I struggled a lot with my academics, some other problems with friends and family and finances, and I like I was really going through everything alone. And that was really scary. I finally hit a point where I realized how much trouble I was in, and I reached to my academic advisor. God bless the woman, she's a saint. That meeting with her, I went through probably six boxes of tissues. But I talked to her and we made a plan. I talked to my parents and we made a plan. I talked to my two best friends, who don't go to my school, I had been neglecting them. I talked to them, and made amends. It was an uphill battle from there, but I think I did pretty okay. If there is any wisdom I can impart from that, it would be to be aware if your state of mind, because things like that really sneak up on you. And if you get into trouble, whether it be relating to mental health, academics, friends, or anything, always reach out to people. Your professors, your academic advisor, a parent, a mentor, a friend, anyone. Don't try to push through on your own. You have a support system behind you, don't be like me, don't be too proud to rely on them sometimes!
Okay, downer, I know. One more quick heavy thing, and then that part is over I promise. One other thing I want to make sure to mention is sexual assault. It is a big problem on college campuses. It's one of those things that's not real, until it it. I'm not saying don't trust anyone and stay in your dorm all the time, I'm just saying, be aware of your surroundings, who you're with, where you're going, all the usual stuff. You can never be too careful. Watch out for yourself and your friends. And if something does happen, definitely reach out someone you trust.
Now that I've thoroughly depressed you all, I want to say, I promise, college isn't like some black hole. Despite all the scary deep stuff I just talked about, college has been the greatest experience of my life. It is full of amazing opportunities and great new experience, and you should take advantage of every one of them. I was definitely a comfort-zone kind of girl before college. Okay, well, I still am a little bit, but because I have tried new things and met new people and had new experiences, I was able to see a whole new world. Definitely use your professors as a resource. If you have a cool professor, go to their office hours. Even just to talk to them about the latest Game of Thrones episode. Professors are actually pretty cool, believe it or not. Taking new or different classes can be a great experience. A friend of mine found her mentor in a professor that we both had last fall. My friend now minors in that class area and absolutely loves it. Me? I learned that it's not exactly my cup of tea. And that's okay! College is definitely a time to try new things. Talk to people. Go to club meetings. Though club connections, I met Karl Rove, I went to Kentucky, I spent a week in Chicago, I debated on a panel, I even started my own campus organization!. You can experience so many amazing things with some amazing new people just by trying out a new club. And if it's not your thing, you don't have to go again!
So the last big point of my spiel is that anything can be an adventure. I'm that person who will text my friends at all hours saying, Hey, wanna go on an adventure? And my 'adventures' can be anything from going into the city to the Korean War Memorial for a three hour sunset study to running out to get milk at one in the morning to monumenting and laying in the empty Lincoln Memorial in the middle of the night in February. We had so much fun and saw the weirdest and coolest and most interesting things. If you don't believe me, one time we went down to get milk and on the way back, someone drove by us with their windows down, music blaring. And the song playing was Wonderwall. I swear to God, it was Wonderwall at 1 AM on a Tuesday night. And we laughed so hard, we sat on the ground and cried. So, yeah, anything can be an adventure if you're willing to make it one.
I'm sure you're all tired of hearing me talk by now, so I'll close it up. College can be the best years of your life (wow, cliche much?). But you have to put in a little effort too. I so, so encourage everyone of you to go out and try new things and experience life to its fullest. Just remember to do your homework occasionally, or else it can catch up with you. And if it does, it's not the end of the world, even though it might seem like it at that time. Before you guys start with the questions, I just want to let you know I put my info up on the board. it's just my name, my email, and my phone number. If you have any other questions you didn't want to ask here or think of later or if you just want to say hi, you can email me or text me or I don't know, stalk me on Facebook or something. I'm always around, just let me know who you are first.
Okay, I'm finally done now. So I'll take any question you guys have, you can ask me about anything you'd like.

Wow okay, that was a lot. I'll be speaking to three AP English classes and this it'll be something along these lines. What would you add? Take out? Let me know what you think, I definitely need some constructive criticisms here!

I'm finishing this post super late, so I've got to get going. Until next time,

Writing to you from M, Personally


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