A Letter to My Freshman “conch-shell-necklace-wearing-midriff-showing” Self
On my drive home last week, a wave of nostalgia overtook my car and I swung by my old Alma Mater. From the chaos, I knew it could only be freshman move-in day. Oh joy!
I remember my first day freshman year at Vanderbilt almost too vividly. My entire family –all six of us–made the trip up to Nashville – with two cars, because I insisted on bringing every possession I owned to college (thinking those prized books or candles or old shirts would end up belonging to one of my sisters). I was off to become an adult! Translation: I could stay out as late as I wanted.
The morning the dorms opened, I jumped out of bed at 6am to shave my legs and make sure I looked perfect for my crucial first day. After all, I was supposed to meet my husband in college, right? I sliced open my leg –literally– with a cut that bled for the next 6 hours and soaked through 5 Finding Nemo Band-Aids (the only ones available at our hotel). My dad was 2nd in the move in line (he’s a Marine) and as soon as we got the 7am call that the doors had opened my mom and siblings and I came zooming over to campus in order to “beat the rush” and the scorching august temperatures. Thankfully, I had my three younger siblings to assist in schlepping my tank tops, short skirts, toiletries for the next year, etc. up the chaotic stairs (I owe them big time).
My roommate was way cooler than me – which I only determined by our poster selection. While I stuck up my posters of Orangina (really?) and Usher (don’t ask) – she had a black and white poster of Bob Marley smoking a joint (I later asked her what exactly he was doing ) and a poster that read, “Marijuana- hey at least it’s not crack!” Being that my dad holds the US record for the largest cocaine bust in his days as a Federal Prosecutor – and I cringe at conflict – I bit my fingernails off worrying about the tense dynamic in that small Branscomb dorm room. After a full day of moving in and several trips to Target to get the perfect shoe organizer and right color plastic drawers, my family left and there I sat – on my twin bed, in my cut off Abercrombie skirt and tight purple tank top (that given my fashion at the time, undoubtedly showed my stomach) – and was officially a college freshman. And that was 9 years ago.
If I could write a note to “freshman Ruthie”, it would go something like this…
First of all, breathe. You will have friends and make it into a “good” sorority. (Kappa Delta) Go to class, after all that is why your parents are spending an exorbitant amount of $$ to send you to a Top 20 school (i.e. starting the weekend on Wed makes Thurs and Fri class difficult impossible). Guys only want one thing and you are better off ignoring them until after graduation. I know it sounds extreme, but you are attracted to the wrong kind of guys, so please don’t trust your judgment. You won’t meet Mr. Right until 2009. It sounds like a long time, but you’ll be glad I told you. Keep waiting – even when __________and ____________and _________ and certainly when _____________ comes along and you think they’ve hung the moon. [They haven’t.]
And if I may add – might you consider wearing something other than a cut off jean skirt and a midriff bearing shirt? And…the tanning bed? For goodness sakes at this rate you’re going to look like a Florida retiree in a hot pink string bikini. And while I’m at it, I also must also implore you to throw that Billabong T-shirt and conch shell choker off the top of the tallest building on campus. You will thank me later.
I’m thankful for dear friends like Julianne, Betsy, and I must say Jesus who helped me find my way in college, indeed find myself. Sometimes we learn the hard way, don’t we? What do you wish you could go back and tell your “freshman self”?
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