A letter to my freshman self


Photo courtesy Nico DePalma

Seniors Ellie Cowen and Nico DePalma spend time at Rockville Town Center as freshmen (left) and dress in their class colors for the last pep rally of senior year (right).

Where’d all the time go? 

Your biggest concern getting off the bus the first day of school is the usual first-day jitters, but you have no idea what the next four years have in store for you. When you find yourself alone at home, sitting and writing your final article of high school, when you’ve finally made it so to speak, you’ll be asking yourself the same question you’ve been asking the entire last year: where’d all the time go?

The anxiety that follows you every day won’t ever really go, but you’ll learn soon enough how to keep it from letting you find yourself. You are afraid to be yourself, love yourself, and you’ll keep the person you truly are as isolated as possible, but you’ll come to find that doing so doesn’t separate you from his emotions.

The key is to realize it’s never really that deep. You think you need to hide from the attention of others to feel safe, that individuality will put you in a worse place than you already are, but you have to put your happiness first. Start with how you dress. I swear, a good outfit will make you so much happier than wearing the same blue hoodie and jeans every. single. day. If it makes you feel any better, you’re voted Best Dressed senior year, so that’s definitely something….

Choose your friends carefully, and never forget to have self-respect. You’ll find yourself in weird situations (fake DMs, lying, manipulation, etc.), but it’ll all work out in the end. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down, or to cut off the people you find keeping you from being happy. Most importantly, never forget that you deserve love, too. 

There will be someone your senior year who makes you forget most of these things. It’s much easier said than done, but try to remember that a few highs are not worth the seemingly endless lows that come with them. You won’t listen to the people closest to you who tell you this, even when you know they’re right, but it’s true. Find the people who really care enough to give you the time of day; don’t put your happiness aside while trying for the 10th time to convince yourself it’s only temporary.

Your world will change in the blink of an eye after junior year. That change will be scary, but you couldn’t be more ready for it. Just remember that you are never truly alone. Don’t take the power your friendships have for granted; cherish and make the most of them for the time you have left, and never be afraid to make new ones, no matter how close the end of the year seems to be. Sophomore and junior year will be characterized by isolation and separation, so take advantage of togetherness when it’s offered to you.

Never take your best friend for granted either. Whenever it feels like everything is falling out from under you, or you have nobody to turn to, or you’re in your darkest moment, one constant you’ll always have is the platonic love between the two of you. She loves you more than you let yourself think, just make sure she knows you do too. You’re in for some intense separation anxiety four years from now, and I wish I had a good solution to that, but it’s inevitable. Just make sure to cherish every possible moment you have together before it’s too late. 

If I had to give one piece of advice to you, I’d say to hold your head high and allow yourself that self-respect and love I mentioned. And start college applications earlier. The senior year stress is not necessary. 

Good luck,

Nico 🙂