I’ve been thinking about my freshman self. A lot. She’s been stirring and stretching in my mind, kind of pacing around, and never slow to perk up at the slightest suggestion of memory. She’s fairly squirming to be heard.
I know part of the “why” behind this sudden, frequent activity of the 18-year-old girl tucked away in me is because I have been working extensively on a final paper for my senior seminar. The assignment includes autobiographical reflections on my experience as a lit students throughout college, and so I have been prodding R.K. the freshman incessantly through my attempts to write about her, and naturally, she is now awake.
Good morning, sleepy head. It’s been awhile.
While you’ve been asleep, a lot’s happened. Perhaps I should fill you in, although you’ll probably figure it out yourself soon, enough. You do know me pretty well…after all, we’re practically the same person. Almost. But let me acquaint you just a bit with some of the things that are different…
- First off, you’re a senior. Yea-scary. Sorry to just thrust it on you like that, but I thought you should know…
- Even scarier, perhaps, you’re not really any closer to having a clear vision of some grand life work than you were when you graduated from high school, just 5 months or so ago for you. But that’s ok! I’m not worrying, and you shouldn’t, too. Why? Because
- you have also learned a lot (and I mean, a lot) about the importance of just living day to day, one thing at a time. A quote you like from C.S. Lewis’ Learning in Wartime sums it up pretty well: “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the [wo]man who takes [her] long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment, ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or grace received.” The sooner you learn the knack of really living like that, the happier you’ll be…or we’ll be…or all of us, meaning all the selves that myself currently contains…whatever that means. (“Unite my heart, Lord, to fear Your name!”)
- Also, the aforementioned lesson is helping you a lot right now in these final weeks of the semester. You know the intense anxiety you’re experiencing right now, in your first finals week of college? Don’t worry-I don’t think it ever gets quite that bad, again. (But I do sympathize-those two huge papers for O.T. and for Writing and Research due back to back are killer…hang in there!) And approaching finals week this time, for example, three years later in the fall semester of your senior year, you still have a good chunk of work, but you’re not freaking out. You know it’ll get done, and that stress would kill you quicker than the work itself.
There, my dear, naive, well-meaning freshman self. I know I said you were the one who’s been wanting to tell your story, but you’ve had your say, and now it’s my turn. Frankly, I’m still a little frustrated with you at times. But I’m also immensely thankful for you, as foolish as you are, and for all the ways you’ve grown and matured since then…and buckle down! For the road is long and sometimes windy, and you’ve still got a ways to go…but I think you’re finally ready to be receptive to the same piece of advice that (kind of crazy) professor tried to give you freshman year-Enjoy the ride!
Just a final brief thought for the road (I know you’re busy) to my current self now: You really are so very young. I know you don’t feel that way a lot right now, but you are. At least, I think you are. (That’s what all the older adults say, and when you look at the entire scope of history as far back as you’re aware of, and at Jehovah Himself, how could you see yourself as anything but young? You are a woman, now, and no longer a child; but a young woman. A very young woman.)
And besides, this is probably part of what I’ll be telling my 21-year-old self ten years further on from now, when I’m looking back in my 30’s, seeing all the ways I’ve grown and changed and trying to re-evaluate my story again, right?