An Open Letter to my High School Self

Dear High School Amanda,

It is your sophomore year of high school. You are on your laptop perusing the US News & World Report rankings for universities.

Soon you will learn about the “liberal arts,” professors who have dinner with their students, student activism, and “holistic review.” And you will fall in love. You will be completely enraptured in the idea of living on your own and filling your mind with information about the world.

I am writing not to tell you how your college years unfolded or even that “everything will be okay” because you definitely had many not-so-okay moments. Instead, I want to write two pieces of advice for you:

Be present; the current moment is just as important as the future.

It is not about how many honors societies you are inducted into or the number of officer positions you hold; it is about how meaningfully you live. Stop creating spreadsheets with possible careers or graduate schools. The time will come when you will make that decision. Be present. There will be many tough decisions and rough moments ahead. Trust yourself; articulate your thoughts; be comfortable sitting in the uncertainty.

Practice gratitude–for the people who enrich your life.

You will be ridiculously lucky to know some of the most brilliant and grounded people. Your path will cross with friends who teach you how to live more fully, professors who help you acknowledge your own privilege, mentors who push you to question your reasons for attending college and construct your own definition of success.

You did not deserve it, but your life will be overwhelmingly exciting, whole-hearted and beautiful. Soak in your time at William & Mary; it will go by quickly.


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