Posted a year ago
Dear Freshman Parker
You’re more than ready to just get there.
By Parker Hibbett
Dear Freshman Parker,
Right now you’re practically squirming with anticipation of everything you think Stanford will hold for you. You’re more than ready to just get there — spending the last few weeks watching all your friends leave you to start at their own colleges has been agony — and begin the adventure you’ve been dreaming about for years. At the same time, though, you’re terrified. Even though you’ve been expecting and planning for and preparing for college since, well, practically birth, you don’t actually know what life there will be like. You’re also scared because you don’t know if you really belong here, if the admissions office made a mistake letting you in (in case you’re wondering, they didn’t), if you can really match up to the intimidating prowess of your fellow Trees. And even though you’ve been mentally rehearsing this for years, you’re not sure you’re quite ready to step out into the world alone, away from your friends and family. All of these feelings and fears are totally valid and completely universal. All your classmates feel almost exactly the same. But I’m here (from about one year in the future) to assure you that everything turns out great, that none of these worries that seem so big right now will be big enough to keep you down, and that the only thing you need your mind to be focusing on is getting ready to take in and savor all the magic, love and excitement that’s about to hit you.
The most vital thing for you to remember is that you are exactly where you are meant to be, in terms of physical location, personal growth, and life achievement. I know it can feel like there are a thousand eyes on your back, a thousand expectations breathing down the back of your neck, a thousand huge, daunting steps lined up in front of you. I know it seems like everyone here is on their way to saving the world or becoming the next big thing. Again, though, everyone is having these same thoughts (even the ones you think are on their way to greatness). These feelings of not belonging in such an atmosphere are so much of a real, observers phenomenon that there’s even a name for them: Imposter Syndrome. Everyone here sees other people doing their things and feels intimidated by the sheer prowess they see around them. And you are part of that. You are a piece both of the intimidatingly impressive and the intimidated. Everyone you will meet there is dealing with these worries, and you can talk to just about anyone for strategies to combat them. Although it may not always feel that way, you, and everyone around you are precisely where they should be. Whether you’re struggling through PWR or starting your own company, whether you feel like you’re growing or regressing, whether you’re happy with where you are or not, you are where you should be at that particular moment. Each of these moments is a step on your journey through life, a brush stroke in your very own magnum opus, but you can’t expect to time travel to the end of your journey or the completion of your masterpiece.
To conclude, you belong here and you will find a wonderful and loving home here. College is a big step into the “real world,” but it’s one that you are more than ready to take. You will always be enough—both in general and for whatever specific feats you set out to accomplish. So take a deep breath, smile, and get ready to start the most amazing, transformative journey of your life thus far.
(slightly older) Parker