Dear Up-n-Comer

This past June, we asked our seniors to write a letter of encouragement to the next generation of rising freshmen girls. This letter was written by Isabelle, a graduate of both TIWP and Miramonte’s class of 2017.

Dear Up-n-Comer,

I remember my first year of high school. It’s one of those things that you sort of can’t forget (trust me, I’ve tried). I made about every mistake you could make freshman year and I’m here to tell you, that’s OKAY. Freshman year is the year to freak out a little. If you adjust to Miramonte homework culture perfectly first semester — MORE POWER TO YOU. But for me, and most of you, it’s okay to get the B, run the 12 minute mile, pull an all-nighter on a project. TRUST ME, UCs don’t even look at your freshman year grades.

I don’t want to scare you. Maybe your freshman year will be incredible. Maybe you’ve already battled your insecurities, nailed your relationship with your parents, and totally figured yourself out. Me? It went a little differently. What I’m trying to say is: freshman year was my low point, yours might come a totally different year. Either way, as a graduated senior, I AM OVERWHELMINGLY FULL OF JOY. I wasn’t always like that. If you’re an emo freshman who can’t imagine it getting better, it can. If you love music but you’re too scared to pick up a guitar, you could be an expert by the time you graduate. If you love words but are wary of public speaking, you could be a full blown debater in four years. This is how it works:  the next 4 years will turn you into a totally different person, a person you will be proud to be. When I think about all the potential simmering within you, I get giddy. You’re about to experience things you never imagined. The years will go by so fast and yet take so long.

Here’s my advice. Break some rules sometimes. Broken rules make magic moments. Write down moments that take your breath away. You’ll want to remember them. Never let your feelings be belittled: you’re never being “over-dramatic,” you always deserve to be heard. Write checklists and finish them. Don’t let high school be a monotonous, slightly unpleasant backdrop. Make sure you go out and do things. You live next to one of the best cities in the world. BART IN! It’s okay to mess up and hurt people. Just make sure you apologize. You become a better friend when you start prioritizing your own needs. I know that sounds counterintuitive.

I’m going to tell you to stay true to yourself — you’re not really going to know how to do that. Just let yourself be interested in weird things and realize that it makes you so much cooler. My senior year I started filming all my friends to make a movie, wearing snapbacks every day, and carrying a longboard in my trunk. If you told me freshman year that I would be able to embrace those weird interests, I would have been shocked. Speaking of trunks: get your license as soon as you possibly can. I want to list things forever but mostly you have to figure it out yourself. High school is a beautiful disaster. Buckle up!

—Isabelle (Honorary Older Sister)

P.S. Caring about school is cool. But so is caring about yourself. Don’t let college scare you into not taking care of yourself!

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