A note to self (and a few others)

A friend of fourteen years left for college a week ago. I’ve been trying to craft all that I’ve wanted to say to her into coherent sentences ever since her flight took off, and as tough as it was combing through the mass of emotions in my head, I finally managed to come up with something borderline decipherable.

I’m posting this here because along with her, and I, there are so many others who just started (or are going to start) this new journey. Hopefully you’ll relate.

Here goes.

I honestly cannot believe that you left already. I swear to god, I had marked the day in my calendar ( I mean on my phone, not an actual calendar; who has those these days anyway).

Anyhow! New York!

You have absolutely no idea how happy I am for you. Everything, from the lights shining all day and all night, to the buzz on the streets no matter what time will envelope you in wonder. Honestly, you’ll be so enthralled in the next few weeks, with both college and New York, that you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed. I just went through the same thing. I’m still going through it, and I’m absolutely no expert at handling it all, but I do know this.
There will come a point when you’ll be experiencing so much at the same time, you’ll be feeling so many emotions at once, that your heart will be full to bursting. Let it. I swear to god. The fist time you cry looking up at the sky, or at a wall in your room, or in your sister’s lap will tell you so many things about yourself.

You’ll know the kind of person you thought you would be when you came here, and how you’ve realised that you’re laughably off the mark. You’ll realise that making friends is actually not as easy as we always thought it would be; because there are just so many walls that we’ve been trained to not let down. You’ll learn that eventually, slowly, you’ll have to let down those walls (I just started working on it, too) and start trusting strangers. You’ll learn to trust your instincts more than Google maps.

You’ll learn that the extent of our education was limited to learning how to read words off a page, and not watch those words become fingers that stretch your mind in a way that’s painful, but refreshing. You’ll breathe. We’ve both (we’ve all) been cooped up inside these boxes we unknowingly created for ourselves, holding our breath in anticipation for something to come along that let’s us exhale. You’ll exhale. You’ll cough, and sputter, and fall ill with the freshman flu till you can’t lie about your cold being a sniffle anymore (they can hear it from two blocks away, they know it’s you).

You’ll let go of all definition; of everything familiar and comfortable. You’ll realise you’re not actually as good at things as you thought you were. And that is when you’ll look. You’ll look beyond your own limited experiences in liminal spaces and see people. You’ll meet people from countries you can’t possibly point out on a map (no, Serbia and Siberia are not the same thing), with accents you can’t decipher. You’ll repeat your own name to people so many times it’ll start sounding strange (“wait, how do you pronounce it?” “I don’t even know anymore”). You’ll think you remember people’s names and have four hour long lunches with them before they shake your hand at the end of the meal, confused as to why you keep calling them Paul.

Don’t worry, chances are they don’t remember you either.
You’ll realise how hard it is to control your tongue sometimes, and you’ll learn the hard way. There are things that you’ll learn people don’t talk about, and that’s okay. Because these are the same people who will bare their thoughts to you under a starry sky at 4 AM when it’s just you and them. And yes, you will have all those 4 AM nights under the starry skies. I hope you do. I hope you have many, many incomplete conversations that carry on until the wee hours of the mornings. I hope you get to feel the bags under your eyes the next day as you rush off for your first day of classes (and get lost).

Please get lost. Get lost alone. But don’t expect to “find yourself” in some dark alleyway of Harlem (there are much safer places to do this, pls ok thnx). Get lost alone so you know you have it in you to figure it out. You’ll figure it out.
You’ll figure out that it’s alright to feel inadequate. People have had experiences that took them around the entire world, and sometimes you’ll feel like the life you’ve led until this moment has been nothing but a series of test papers. It hasn’t. Don’t hesitate to look down at your own roots for the inspiration that you need. Believe me, we have more depth than we think we do. Feel the relief of realising that everyone is as uncertain as you, no matter how quiet or loud they are.

You, and all these baggy eyed, enthusiastic, barely-adults are all in this together. You’ll learn alone, and you’ll learn together. But by god, you’ll learn.
With infinite love and free Skype calls,

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