Letter to my freshman year self


Photo courtesy Kirby Child

Senior Kirby Child with her mother Tracy Child at homecoming freshman year (left) and prom senior year (right).

High school is full of rights of passage, both big and small. From getting your driver’s license to staying out way too late, these four years are necessary in preparing you for your future. Everyone’s experiences in high school and opinions about this phase of their life are entirely unique. As a senior, it is crazy to look back and see how much you’ve changed over time. For me, writing this letter was a great way for me to reflect on the past four years of my life, and I highly recommend other seniors do the same. 

Dear Freshman Kirby, 

There’s so much I want you to know and so much I’m glad you don’t. 

High school for you, like so many others, will be full of twists and turns, and there is no way one can be completely prepared for that chapter of their life. That being said, I hope you know everything is going to turn out fine, regardless of that one missed homework assignment or those few (many) bad grades on your math tests. None of that is worth stressing yourself out over, and I wish it wasn’t going to take you all of freshman year to figure that out. 

I also want you to know how important it is to stop and enjoy the little things, because when you look back on them, they’re really the big things (cheesy, I know). From the rushed morning rides to school bickering with Dennis because you’re going to be late again, to those early March lacrosse games that you play with numb hands and freezing legs. At the time, you will worry about all the tardies piling up, and you’ll complain about the cold weather, but when you look back, these moments will be some of your fondest memories. Dennis will go off to college and you’ll miss his jarringly loud music at 7a.m., so I hope you don’t take those mornings for granted. The pandemic will hit, and you’ll lose an entire season of team dinners and spirit days with some of your best friends. Why don’t you relish these moments when you have the chance?

Dad’s going to teach you to drive, and Mom’s going to help you with your college applications. Be sure to cherish those moments with Dad in the passenger seat trying not to get frustrated with your jerky driving, and try not to get annoyed with Mom as she makes countless seemingly unnecessary (but actually extremely helpful) edits on your supplemental essays. They’ll both be your biggest supporters and number one fans, no matter how many mistakes you make, so make sure to appreciate them. 

If I could go back in time and remind you of the importance of living in the moment, I wouldn’t hesitate to. That being said, I have few other regrets, and those I have are better left unsaid. High school will be an incredible learning experience for you, both in the classroom and, even more importantly, out of it. Freshman year you’ll learn the difference between a true friend and an acquaintance, a priceless life lesson. You’ll also learn invaluable skills like time management and balance, as you juggle family, social life, sports and various extracurriculars. You’re going to discover how much you truly love writing and journalism, not as just an elective, but as a potential career path. Sophomore year will teach you the importance of taking time to just go out and have fun; school is important, but it’s not everything. You’ll learn to take time for yourself, your friends and your family. Junior year is going to be interesting, as you navigate life as an only child. You’ll appreciate your siblings when they come home for breaks and holidays, and you’ll appreciate your parents, as they continue to put up with you after March 13 when you’re home all day, everyday. And finally, senior year. Believe me, your senior year will be completely different than you could’ve expected. The pandemic will teach you empathy and patience (though the patience aspect is a bit harder to grasp). Appreciation for what you have will be your key to success senior year, though it’ll be hard at times not to feel like the world is against you. College applications and decisions will be stressful and confusing, but just know it’s OK to ask for help, and it’s OK to just take some time and breath. Each year of high school you are going to learn new things and expand your understanding of both yourself and the world around you. It’s an interesting time for everyone, so just remember, you’ve got this. 

With love, 

Senior year Kirby