Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, the summer is coming to an end and young people everywhere are gearing up to go back to school. It can be an exciting time but also a stressful time, especially for those of you who are going into university/college or a new school for the first time.
That's why I wanted to share this letter I wrote to my first year self with all of you worrying about the upcoming school year. It documents my experience in university and might help prepare you for your own!
"Dear First Year Me,
This is your finished university future self. I wanted to share some advice with you that will really help you get through this year. Your life is going to turn out very different than you currently plan it too.
And it's going to be super awesome.
When you walked into the PAC that first day and they handed you your student number that would define you for the next five years, you felt discouraged. As classes started and you realized that what set you apart in high school was so common in university, you felt worthless. You are going to feel lost in a sea of amazing people that you believe you will never live up to.
Believe in yourself, try at school instead of hiding in your room scared of the work because there is so much to do. You are strong with your unique feelings and ideas; people will love you for who you are if you give them the chance.
You don't know it yet, but your mother has cancer. Remember that she is the woman you got all your strength from, and while she might be overly dramatic at times, she needs you. Be there for her instead of running away because you don't know how to make it better. In the end, she will survive but she won't ever be quite the same.
Be patient with her, answer her calls -- because while she will call you five-plus times a day -- they mean so much to her. The whole ordeal will prove to you that your family is strong and that your dad can actually learn to cook with more than just a BBQ. Make sure you call her to take her medicine to keep the cancer away, or she will take a year to finish a six-month prescription because she "hates drugs."
On a similar note, make time to take care of yourself. It's so easy to power through days with bad food and no sleep but it makes you miserable. If something is feeling weird please go to the doctor. Even now, I am still scared that the doctor will judge my bad lifestyle choices, but in the end, it helps dispel your paranoia that something worse is wrong.
You are going to be empowered and accomplish things you think you can't. Be excited to meet these people and respect them.
You will also need a therapist during university. You will realize that your depression is something that gets so much worse if you pretend it's not there. Fighting it is a constant battle that requires support, but you can do it. Your scars will fade and you will create new ones, but they will become the battle scars of a young warrior who will soon become a champion against this thing they call depression.
You will make friends with whoever will have you because you don't want to be alone. You will stumble on some awesome and not so awesome people this way. Don't let the not-so-awesome stay in your life. Trust me, many like-minded people are coming your way. You will learn to enjoy being alone and the peace it can bring. Also, you are going to waste too much time on boys. I would tell you not to do this, but you will learn a lot of lessons this way, so do it anyways.
You are going to meet a professor who will go to bat for you, a charity founder who will change your life forever, and many amazing and wonderful people that constantly renew your faith in the world. You are going to be empowered and accomplish things you think you can't. Be excited to meet these people and respect them.
Most importantly, you don't know everything. You know a little about a couple things. You are going to go through first year thinking you know everything and have a very rude awakening. Ask questions. Seek out interesting projects and ideas. You are going to become more comfortable with who you are and start talking about your experience with mental health. Eventually, mental health will become your job -- so pay attention in class. Social media is not that interesting.
In the end, university will be the time of your life. It is the first time you will be honest and open with yourself. You will try a lot of what doesn't work to find out what does. You will gain weight, change your appearance and feel more beautiful and confident than ever before. You will still be awkward and quirky but you will be okay with it. You will make/keep friends that will last a lifetime and experiences that most kids only dream about. Be excited, and happy. You will work for the first time in your life, screw up first year only to finish with the highest marks you got in your student career, and come out a better, happier person.
These years are your first taste of independence, but don't worry, you wont screw it up.
P.S. A speech communication teacher is going to tell you that you don't have a future in public speaking. Don't listen to her, she has no idea what she is talking about."
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