Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Younger Self: a message to incoming freshman me

Dear Younger Self,

You don't want to admit it, but you're scared.

For weeks relatives have asked you the question, and you've just shrugged it off. But deep down inside you know it's true. You are scared. Scared of grades and of failing. Scared you won't end up with a good roommate. Scared you won't make friends, or you'll end up with the wrong crowd. You're going to college, even more: you're going to Mines. The thought is even overwhelming. You wonder if you made the right choice.

You'll move in, and have a blast. Your roommate will be the awesomest roommate to ever walk to earth, even if you don't know that yet. The first week, though filled with fun activities, will be a little awkward. You'll meet some people that you'll never hang out with, and you'll meet some people that will become some of your closest friends. You just never know, and the ways you meet them will be all different- from Playfair doing what it was designed to do, to sitting down randomly with someone at Slate, to coming across an amazing group of people offering you ice cream, to meeting kids in class by getting lost after Calc or having the exact class schedule, to getting to know people on your floor more closely from shopping sprees and Tebowing sessions.

You'll go to class. You'll like all of first. Then you'll fall asleep during Calc, which is a bad idea, and in Earth, which is not such a bad idea. You'll get a D in Calc and a high B in Earth for your first tests. Oh and a B in Chem. The thing about Chem is Chem lab. You'll become lab partners with another Geophysics major. And in theory, that is a bad idea. But whatever. It'll be fun. But I suggest getting an extra-long lighter.

You'll be carefree for the first month, but all of a sudden more tests will start coming up. And a lot of homework. And it will build up. And make you crazy. Maybe if you weren't so involved...On your freshman resume, you will have included in your activities:
  • Society of Women Engineers 
  • Society of Student Geophysicists
  • Society of  Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • The Oredigger
  • InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
And IV will take up most of your time. But you'll love it.
Oh yeah, and you'll work 10 hours a week for Athletics, which doesn't fit well with your schedule and the concept of studying, but oh well. You need the money.

You're used to being stressed out by now. Or at least always having something due, somewhere to go. And getting sometimes 5 hours, mostly 7, when you're lucky 8 hours of sleep each night. You'll need a vacation. And you'll go to IV's Fall Conference, and it will be awesome. You'll become even closer to some friends and make new that will study with you for Calc and then Chem.

Again, when it comes to outlets, InterVarsity will still be the group you're most involved with, the one where you know the most people. They'll actually move you in Orientation Weekend. And then there will be Large Group, Bible Study, Friday Movie Night at the Sparkly Man Cave, and study sessions in DiggerDen. And other cool stuff like Amazing Race. And mad craziness of each awesome person. As for The Oredigger, you'll write an article that will be due the same day as the first Calc test. Of course, you won't write it until that Thursday. And that is a bad idea. After that you'll write a couple other articles, but due to your insane schedule and inability to attend the meetings, along with pure being busy and sheer boredom of the rag that is this grammatically incorrect newspaper- you'll not be too involved the rest of the semester. As for SWE, SHPE, and SSG- there is good food, but SHPE and SSG coincide. SSG has less members, thus more food. Yay.

After a while, you'll realize that the other kids are not just jealous of you living in Maple Hall. You'll realize you hang out with only 40% of the floor, and 90% of the time you'll hang out with 10% of the floor. And most of those times will be bothering the kid across the hall because he has a futon or doing homework with the baseball players or going shopping with the girls- stuff that your RA doesn't plan. But it's okay. You guys don't do much, and there was this one floor meeting where a couple people you had never seen before emerged and everyone was like "whoa",  but the half of you guys that do know each other will be pretty cool. And you wouldn't trade them for a floor full of others.

You'll love Golden, more than you could have initially imagined. It's so pretty in the autumn. And yeah, it's close to home. But when it snows, it's magical. The campus is so still...until you get thrown into the snow. And it's so close to ice cream and stuff. And even with an ankle that's not 100% after injuring it in Humans Vs. Zombies, it'll take you 8 minutes to scamper from one end of campus to the other, assuming you start from Maple and run downhill from there. It's a great place to live, and you'll love it.

Duncan's voice will bore you. Haji's socks will repulse you. Berlin's...everything will annoy you. But it's okay, you have your friends. They'll hear you out. And complain with you. And make fun of the socks and be those distracted "kids who sit in the back" with you. But still do homework with you. Some friends will stay up with you. Have long conversations or walk you through your lab at night into early morning with you. You'll even have those long conversations that occur when you and your roommate thought you both should be in bed. You'll have bad weeks, and they'll understand. You'll go through bad tests, and some will even be sitting in the same room. The stress will come, and you'll know where to find them (most of them are probably studying). And whenever you have "free time" they'll be there to have fun with you and do crazy things with you.

The last two weeks will be crazy. But you'll live, after all you have junkfood on your side. (Ha, and your face breaks out. Ha ha.) The night before finals the internet will provide a horrible distraction that will take your focus away from Chem and Earth. So if you ever get mad, for future reference: stay off Facebook. Actually, if you want to get anything done productively and not have to stay up til 4 a.m. because you're distracted, delete it. Or show some self-control. But whatever, there's always some distraction, something to do. And during weeks like this, yeah you'll be stressed out, but you'll make it. Seriously- stop crying about SolidWorks and go study it. Sheesh.

Finals will come. And it'll all be a learning experience: some days you win, some days you lose. Some days it snows. And Duncan gets trapped in his house and has to postpone Exam 1, so you get more time to cram. Some days you guess wrong. Which is unfortunate that you had to guess so wrong on Exam 3. But somedays you'll guess right and know it and exhale (Chem), and some days you'll thank God for partial credit (Math). It'll all turn out.

So don't worry, younger self. After finals you'll be mentally stable, with a boatload of memories from just one semester, many friends you made them with, and the assurance that you made the right choice and belong here. You'll go home relax for four weeks. Okay never mind, you'll have an emotional breakdown the night before final grades are posted. But it'll be okay, you have your friends again. And your mom makes ribs and macaroni and cheese. Then you'll rest for a few weeks.

And one week in, you're already gonna miss it.