Exactly 10 years ago, I was 19, quickly approaching 20 which means I was a sophomore at Holy Family University. I’m trying to think about what my state of mind was like back then. I could probably pull out my old journals to cheat and see what was going on with me but I won’t. I remember thinking twenty was a dumb age to reach because you’re no longer a teenager but you’re not 21 so who cares?
Knowing myself though, I can tell you I was still overweight at 19. Most definitely in the 190-200lb range, if not more. I was probably wearing old shirts from my brother and my Dad because shopping was a nightmare and I’d rather look man-ish instead of braving the mirrors of a dressing room.
My friends ten years ago are almost identical to who they are now. My core group of friends which consists of mostly men and my best female friend. Then there were the people I saw occasionally but still cared about, also the same people as now. Not to mention, my school friends. By sophomore year, I was in the same classes with the same six to eight people and we all became close (only talk to a couple of them now).
I did get rid of one completely toxic human being from my life. Almost exactly a year before, around Spring Break when I was 18, I had to cut this person out. I had known him since I was kid and he became my best friend the last few years of high school. In college, we had a huge blowout where he said awful, horrific things to me so I said we’re done. Once and for all. It was the first time I ever did this to someone and to this day, I believe it to be one of the best decisions of my life.
Advice. I’m supposed to be giving advice to almost 20-year-old Veronica. Well, my first piece of advice would be to have a more fun in college. I think because I was so traumatized from high school being the worst four years of my life, I was expecting college to be more of the same. It wasn’t, thank god. Once I was in my core classes for my English major, I found my fellow nerds and it felt so much easier to relax around them. However, I was still tense from the pressure of having maintain my scholarship. My skin was at its absolute worst in college from stress acne.
My second piece of advice would be to not care so much about what other people think. I spent a lot of time in college trying to be smarter, wittier, cooler than I actually am. I don’t know if it’s because I was around new people and wanted to be a new person or if I was massively insecure about who I was. No wait, I know exactly which one of those it was. I was massively insecure- 100%. When you’re insecure and self-conscious about who you are, you try to adapt to the people around you because they seem more confident. They’re not. Everyone’s insecure. It’ll help you a lot if you keep repeating that to yourself whenever you’re starting to sink.
Here’s my last piece of advice and this isn’t actually coming from me. One of my oldest and best friends once said this to me when I was having an incredibly low day. Be kind to yourself. Now, this isn’t just for 19-year-old Veronica. This is something I still have to say to myself constantly. My whole life I have held myself to this higher expectation. It’s not pressure my parents ever put on me or my teachers or anyone except myself. There are certain aspects of my life where I’m always telling myself: you can do better than that. I’m the queen of beating myself up. It’s why when someone does put me down or says something horrible to me, I internalize it so deeply because I’ve already said the same horrible thing to myself a thousand times. You don’t need to judge me when I judge myself harsher than anyone else ever could.
Be kind to yourself. I get so angry, back then and now, whenever I can’t do something. Whenever I can’t figure something out. Whenever I see other people having an easier time doing something that I find difficult. I berate myself as if it’s the end of the world and it’s NOT. It is not the end of the world if you screw up. It’s so important to remember that. The world will not come to a crashing halt if you don’t do something the way you were supposed to or if you did something incorrectly, or if it’s taking you longer to do something than others. In the words of mother, “Relax. It’ll get done.”
In conclusion, 19 almost 20-year-old Veronica, here is my advice:
Be kind to yourself.
It’ll get done.