I wish I could write a letter to my 19-year-old awkward self in my first month of university. If I could get a chance to time travel, this is likely what I’d tell her:
Dear younger Jess,
You’re nervous and unbearably self-conscious during your second week at uni, far away from home. You’ve just started university in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. You’re already being introduced as ‘the funny one’.
It’s in this place that you will perfect the art of building a 'jokester persona' to mask your shyness.
I wish you would get out of your head, soften your wide smile that doesn't quite reach your eyes and pause to appreciate the new things in this foreign land everyone is telling you to call home.
Your time here is so shorter than you can imagine.
You can't help but feel self-aware in the sea of white faces. That’s okay. But fight the urge to shrink within yourself when you notice that the boys barely pause to look your way.
So you don't evoke the same spark in their eyes as the long-legged blonde girls? Whatever, you are more beautiful than they know; stop searching for validation from horny teenage boys… or anyone else for that matter.
Your beauty, however, is not what brought you here; you’re here to learn and grow to love the woman you’re to become.
On these perfectly green and cut lawns, you will have beautiful talks that will make you marvel at the greatness of your life. Go on and make purely platonic relationships with the pretty white boys and allow yourself to enjoy the waves of puppy love when you choose the imperfect one for you. Try new things and don't feel obligated to explain your decisions.
You're terrified of getting fat because of all the fast food: keep working out, your body will thank you later. But leave your stretch marks and cellulite alone, those are the prints and curves that have built the body that will support you through your beautiful life.
You’re different and, in time, you will learn to love all that makes you different. Because, in the end, it is what makes you, you.
Let yourself grow and learn to be at peace when you’re alone. You’re your greatest friend.
It won't be easy and many times you'll want to cut and run. Call your mom instead, cry a little, and get back to it. You're concentrating too much on the end though; do enjoy the process. Four years will soon be over and it will be a surprise when you realize that you made a home of the souls you came to call your friends. Remember, living a life that brings you joy is the greatest blessing you can give yourself.