Commentary: A Letter to My Freshman Self
Don’t freak out, but it’s you nineteen years later.
I know you’re in the backseat while Mama and Daddy drive you to the University of Michigan. And while you are putting up the biggest front of your life, I know that you’re nervous as hell.
I'll admit, the next four years won’t be easy. You’ll experience heartache and disappointment and learn some very hard life lessons. But you’ll also build friendships that will last a lifetime and be exposed to so much more than you could ever imagine. You’ll see the world in such an amazingly different way — and see glimpses of how you, a little Black girl from the South suburbs of Chicago, will fit into and impact a forever-changing world.
But before you begin this new journey, I have a few things to share with you:
You Are More Than Enough
Like the rest of the world, college — and the people in it — are going to tell you time and time again that you are not enough. And whatever you do, you have to work harder at shutting out that noise and seeing your worth.
So, don’t believe that because you don’t have as much money or fancy clothes or because you are less traveled than other folks, that you are not enough. Please don’t let these white folks make you feel like you are unworthy of your spot at that school. And when they try it, remember they're a student, too, just like you, and attend the same school and go to the same classes as you do.
Also, don’t let simple Black folks make you feel less than either. You do not need to be submissive to keep a man or lighter skinned to keep their attention or believe that “good” hair is prettier or that you need to change in order to be loveable. That's all bullshit. You just keep doing you and loving you fiercely, which leads me to…
None of These Dudes Really Matter
Kellee, you are pretty inexperienced when it comes to boys. Bless your heart, but you still think every man is as awesome as Daddy. But boo, that just isn’t the case.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be guys on campus who will adore you and treat you with respect, but there will be PLENTY that will treat you like something stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Either way, please get that “marrying your college sweetheart” fantasy out of your head now, because that will not be your reality (and as quiet as it’s kept, a lot of those girls that did get married after college are now divorced. #shade).
Just try to have fun, keep it cute and learn to walk away when you are being disrespected. Most important, recognize that you are not here waiting to be chosen, but that you are doing the choosing as well. Try to keep all of this in mind the next time you act a plum fool trying to hold on to a man that isn’t as special or significant as you swear he is.
Remember: You are not Mary Jane (a joke that you will totally get in 2014).
Be Smarter About Sex
It’s not a secret that you are still a virgin — and kudos for holding out so long, we both know that mattered to you. But that ain’t gonna last very long here with these thirsty, horny boys and your hormones. So go ahead and partake, it’s natural. But my dear, please be very selective about who you have sex with and who you trust your body with, because as I said before, a lot of these dudes are triflin' and will tell you what you want to hear to get in your pants. Not to mention, 90 percent of these guys have no real idea what they are doing anyway. You will find that most of the time, it’s over before it even began.
I also want you to work on being more empowered when it comes to sex. Yes, I know you are sheltered — I mean right now, you don’t even know what anal sex is. (Google it though, it’s really interesting). But, I digress...
You have the right to ask to be pleased and to be open about what you like. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to, because you don’t owe anyone anything, even if he did take you out on a date. And finally, you also need to learn more about condoms and be brave enough to speak up about why you both need to use them.
College Is Hard as Hell
That last minute, all-nighters teaching yourself Physics for Ms. Pluta’s exam and getting an A only works in high school. College is a whole other entity, so don’t get cocky cause you had AP classes before. This year alone, you are going to be tested and stretched in ways you didn’t know were possible. So get more organized, crack open those books more often and learn what office hours are, because there is really no good reason why we ended up getting a “C+” in Anthropology 101. Mama and Daddy are paying out-of-state tuition, so stop playing games.
You got this. I hoped I haven’t scared you, because trust me, you are going to be OK. All I ask is that you never lose sight of how much potential you have and how amazing and loved you truly are.
P.S. Not wanting to give away the specifics, but in case you were wondering, our life thus far has been pretty damn dope. You worked on being a better person and you dreamed big, WAY BIG. Thanks for that.
Follow Kellee on Twitter @kelleent
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(Photo: Courtesy of Kellee Terrell)