#DearBrena – A Letter to Freshman Me
This letter is coming a little earlier than intended, but it feels like the time is right. The COVID-19 pandemic ended your last semester of undergrad way earlier than planned, and you’ve spent the last month or so trying to regroup and process your feelings. I was going to wait to write this until after graduation, but the ceremony that was supposed to take place on May 9th has been canceled because of this. I officially moved out of the dorm two weeks ago, and even though online classes are currently going on and you don’t have your degrees in hand yet, it feels like your chapter on the Hilltop High has officially come to an end.
I tried to write this on the day I packed up the room, but I just couldn’t handle it. I was entirely too emotional, and I can feel myself tearing up right now as I’m writing this. In this letter, I’m addressing you as a person outside of me for one simple reason – the person you were when you moved in at Claflin on August 13, 2016 is not the same person you are now. The core of those two people is the same, but you’ve grown in ways you never saw imaginable. I’m not going to hit on everything in this letter because we’d be here all day, but the fact that this blog even exists is a testament to that growth. You are more confident. You’ve learned how to trust your own instinct. You’ve learned how to be honest with yourself and with others when it’s uncomfortable. Most importantly, you are FINALLY on the right track to learning how to love yourself and choose yourself. You haven’t gotten it all the way down pat yet, but part of the destination is in the journey.
Before I continue, I want to congratulate you. You made it through four years of college without losing your mind, your scholarship, or your virginity… and your scholarship was definitely the easiest of the three to maintain. That right there deserves a praise. There have been some hiccups and dark times along the way, but you made it, regardless of all the mess that has happened between then and now. Your faith, willpower, and “whys” have been tested immensely, but you made it through. Celebrate that.
Let’s get to the real stuff – the regrets. I’ll sandwich this seemingly negative part right here in the middle because I didn’t want to start or end this on a bad note, but I need to tell you about yourself real quick. Regrets have been weighing heavy on me since packing up my room and I just need to tell them to you so I can get them off my chest. #1 – These men. Leave them alone. All of them. They didn’t truly respect you or value you for who you are or who you’re going to be, and part of that is your fault. When you set boundaries, stick to them even when it makes you uncomfortable and even when you don’t like it. You’ll thank yourself later. Stop making decisions out of loneliness, insecurity, or just being horny. The temporary company wasn’t worth it. You learned lessons from all of your interactions and situationships, but it took you TOO DAMN LONG. You made a lot of mistakes, and you’re still working on forgiving yourself for them. Because you wanted to be hard-headed and not listen to your gut or the voices of someone who really cares about you, you put yourself in a position to be hurt several times. You’re still working through some of that hurt, but I truly believe you learned what you needed to learn and will be better in your next chapter. #2 – Your fear. You let your fear hold you back on more than one occasion. You really let your fear of missing the shots keep you from shooting some of them at all. I won’t get into all of them, but there is one I’m going to hit on because I still kick myself to this day. If I could go back, I would’ve made sure you ran for Miss Claflin. Your heart really wanted you to at least TRY to be Miss Claflin for the 2018-2019 school year. You let the fear of being embarrassed in a pageant and losing the election keep you from even going to the interest meeting. After you missed that interest meeting, you let your fear keep you from running for SGA President too. You counted yourself out before anyone else had the chance to, and you need to stop doing that. You owe yourself more than that. #3 – You gave some of the wrong people priority. You’ve come across a lot of people during your time at Claflin, and you allowed many of them to hold a certain place in your life that they never deserved to have. On the flip side of that, there have been people, one in particular, that you put on the backburner who deserved better from you. Do a better job of choosing the people you have around you and be a better friend to the people you claim to care about and want in your life forever. I’m not going to harp on these regrets, because what’s done is done and everything happened the way it happened for a reason. You have your flaws, you know what they are, and you’ve started the work you know you need to do. All I’m gonna say is this – now that you know better, you need to do better. No more excuses.
Now, let’s take this in a more positive direction. You deserve to brag on yourself. After four years of busting your ass, you still don’t do it enough and don’t know how to accept it when other people do it for you. You are always going to feel like you haven’t done enough with the time you had, but trust that you are going to see the fruit of your labor. You came here on a full ride, and you’re leaving with two degrees and graduating summa cum laude. You didn’t just get by and you exceeded the goal you set at the beginning of your freshman year. You’re graduating with the highest distinction. You didn’t declare psychology as your second major as a freshman like you wanted to, but you found the way to make it work and did just that. It cost you some things, but it happened. You also finally became a Delta Woman. The road was long and hard and sometimes felt like it had a lot more lows for you than highs, but it happened. You did what you knew you were supposed to do, and the time finally came. No matter what anybody says or does, that is one thing they cannot take away from you. It was so hard, but it was so worth it. The dream may have been delayed, but it was never denied – trust that. In this moment, I wish I could tell you that you also got into med school, but we’re still waiting to hear what Big G has to say about that one. You applied and were in the top 10% of applicants for the schools you interviewed at. You got waitlisted, but that’s still something to celebrate because 1) there were plenty of times you didn’t think you’d make it this far and 2) there’s still hope for that maybe to turn into a yes. Even if you do have to make another stop on your way to becoming Dr. Black Barbie, you found what you’re passionate about and haven’t given up in pursuit of that. You will become part of the 2%, it’s just a matter of when and what avenue God has you take to get there. Everything that you wanted to happen during undergrad did not happen, but your four years at Claflin have not been in vain. People look up to, and you have become someone that you would've looked up to - flaws and all. Everything will continue to happen the way it is supposed to and when it is supposed to. Continue to trust God and the plan that He has for you. You’ve done what you can. Let Him add His super to your natural and watch Him blow your mind.
In wrapping this up, I just want to reassure you of a few things. Choosing Claflin was the best choice you could’ve made for yourself. You thought you were going to hate it, but you ended up loving it more than you could’ve imagined. It has its issues, but it’s home and it always will be. You have really grown into a woman that you are proud to be, even though you constantly remind yourself of your imperfections and insecurities. You have really started to love yourself and because of that, you have started to bloom. It gets dark sometimes, but you start to find your roots in that darkness. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, so during those times where you’re in the dark and you can’t see what your next move is, let your faith guide you. You need your foundation to be strong before you become the force you’re meant to be in this world. If you feel like nobody else has your back, you need to have your own. Learning how to fully love and accept yourself exactly where you are at any given time is the best thing you can do. You deserve that. It hasn’t been easy, and you still mess up, but you have to stop putting the pressure on yourself to be perfect when you already know you aren’t. The only person you need to be comparing yourself to is you. That’s a lot easier said than done and you still haven’t completely gotten the hang of it, but it’s true. Focus on giving yourself the best you can each day. That’s all you can do. Work toward the version of yourself that you have in your mind while you’re on your way to becoming the woman God has already called you to be. You are meant to be great and do great things in this world. Don’t lose sight of that. Please.
This chapter of your life has come to an end, but the next chapter is going to be bigger and better. Believe that, believe in yourself, and get out of your own way.