It’s me, but 2021 me — I know that number does not even seem real. You’re all the way in high school, probably on Pinterest trying to pick out the perfect wall hanging for your dorm while worrying about your calculus grade. This letter probably won’t bend the laws of space and time, ending up in your hands, but if by a stretch of the imagination it does, I have some things to say.
First of all, the tapestry doesn’t even fit on the wall and the calculus final comes and goes. I can't remember what the grade was but I do remember something else:
“You’re going to be a small fish in a big pond.”
That was what everyone said about Yale. Once we left that small all-girls high school in Colorado, we would walk through Phelps gate and instantly become inadequate. The water itself would swallow us whole and the fish that once seemed great would be miniscule.
I won’t lie to you, it will be overwhelming when you first swim into Yale and the vast pond that it is. You won’t be worried about being a big fish or a small fish and will be more concerned about finding where your section is in Bass. But, once you get settled, that’s when the comparison will start. You’re going to compare, and compare and compare. You’ll compare all of your insecurities and flaws against all of your peers' greatest strengths; and while I can’t stop you from doing that, I’ll give you a spoiler: when you compare you lose.
Unsurprisingly, you will break up with your high school boyfriend and become familiar with the infamous Tinder fish pic. When people take pictures of the fish they catch, they push the fish closer to the camera and widen the angle, making it appear larger — it's an optical illusion. You will learn how unfair it is to compare yourself to the fish pushed closer to the camera when you're swimming in the depths. You will realize the idea of big fish and small fish doesn’t matter when everyone is just trying to navigate the pond. It's not a potential, it's an inevitable — you are simply going to lose.
And I’m sorry. Amid all the comparing and contrasting, I make it hard for you to find your way — but you will. While reading this I’m sure you thought I was still a physics major, but we traded in astronomy for astrology a while ago and found new passions. We’re now adamantly against the Oxford comma and are really fond of biology. Let’s face it, you and I are different people, and that's ok.
Also, you have friends and you will find your people. Through joining different teams and clubs and smiling at strangers in the dining hall, you will create your circles. You’ll find people that you never expected to meet and some that were always there, you just didn’t realize it. You’ll need them, and you don’t need to apologize for leaning on them time and again, because you’ll be there for them too. I wish I could give you a hug and make you realize that it's ok to ask for help, but you eventually figure it out. Yale is hard and you don’t need to make it harder on yourself.
Erin, it is going to be ok. Yale may seem like the end all be all, but Yale is not going to get you through the next few years — you, and the person you become, will. While getting into Yale and embarking on this journey seems like the end of the road, it's truly the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, it's a long and winding road, we’re actually in the class of 2024 now, but it’s a rewarding one. When driving up a pass, all the switchbacks can make it seem like you’re going backwards; but don’t fear, you're slowly climbing up.
Now I’ll give you some practical advice: Woads is all fun and games until your Thursday morning 9:25 — plan accordingly. The girl you met in water polo doesn’t hate you, she just has an RBF and will become one of your best friends. You will live on the fifth floor, so make sure you have all your folders before walking down the stairs. Joining the News does not guarantee that you will live your Rory Gilmore dreams, but you will make some of the best memories. Also, YOYO. You Only Yale Once, so take it all in. Look up at the buildings and do not take a second for granted.
Happy finals season! I hope you had a great first year at Yale. I’m finishing up my 13th and final year at Brearley. While I’ve been looking forward to starting so many new things in college for quite some time, it has recently hit me that there are many things I’ll never experience again. Soon, I’m not going to be able to invade the Classics department office during my frees. I won’t be able to hug my dog every day. I’ll miss going to Cross Country and Track practice, but there are also a few things I’m glad will be over. Hopefully, my Zoom days will be over soon, and I won’t have to wear a mask for much longer.
In the interim period before college, I’ve taken out my anxious energy by making a lot of plans, even though I’m sure most of them will change once the school year actually starts. After poring over Coursetable for what seemed like five hours, I made a spreadsheet planning out a bunch of courses for the next four years. I don’t even know if these courses are going to be offered in the future, but something about excessive planning makes me feel more in control. Do you actually end up taking intro Greek, Lucan, Mathematics of Language and Foundations in Education studies this fall semester? I have no idea.
With help from a couple prefrosh, I made a Yale Bucket list, or Yucket list. Highlights include: try on all the residential college swings, bind a book and meet Handsome Dan. I’m sure the list is going to expand exponentially once I get to New Haven and discover all the fun activities to do there.
I think I’m going to major in Classics, but maybe you’ve changed your mind about that 5 times by now. I’ve heard that people tend to do that. Classics was very much my thing in high school, but maybe it’ll be something different in college. Who knows? I also want to pick up beekeeping. I’ve been a huge fan of collegiate beekeeping for a while now. I think half of my liked pages on Facebook are various colleges’ beekeeping clubs. I’m so curious to find out whether or not I will continue running. I kind of want to run a half marathon next spring (I just went on a 10-mile run this week), but I can also see myself picking up some random sport and getting really into it.
I’ve been very active meeting fellow prefrosh on Discord. We used to play Jackbox games every Saturday, and there was one time everyone changed their names to variants of Yaz Liow like Laz Yiow and Snaz Liow. By 1:00 A.M., Quiplash had devolved into Laz jokes. We decided to form a steadily-growing cult or not-so-secret society called The Laz. Cult members are known as Lazes. We just do wholesome stuff like say we’re going to “rise at dawn” and attack people who are mean to fellow Lazes. We’re also going to eat food in every residential college. I really hope that happens, because I love talking to them!
No matter how much I think about the upcoming year and no matter how many possible routes I can dream of, I know that I’m going to end up on one that I don’t expect. I suppose the best preparation for college would be to expect the unexpected and embrace the chaos that’s headed in my direction. Although I am a little bit nervous, I’m so excited for the next year, and can’t wait to know how things turn out!