A woman standing in front of a blue home in the rosebeds

Dear 18-year-old me,

As you walk onto the grounds of campus for the first time, you are on the cusp of a new beginning. There is overwhelming pressure for the next four years to be the best of your life. What I can tell you is this: College will not be the smoothest transition, but it will become the most transformative.

It will be made up of late-night conversations, dance parties and tears in the library. You will find the most loyal of friends and the deepest of loneliness. I could tell you the details of the chapter to come, but what I think you should know is that one day you will be sitting on a mountaintop. 

There, on a literal mountain, you will have a moment of self-reflection. You will realize for the first time that you have created a castle inside of your heart. Those mountains will line your academic home throughout the next four years. Eventually, the way the colors of the sunset fall upon it will choke you up but not yet.

Right now, you are sitting with a friend, who will soon change the trajectory of your life. She cannot lead you out of the castle, but she will make you realize you are locked inside. You have been the philosopher tucked away in castle chambers. The philosopher lost in theory and thought, afraid of action. 

You will learn to not be afraid. So as you sit staring out over your city, you will be the bravest you have ever been. 

You will be the bravest you have ever been. 

“Can I tell you something about myself? Something I have never told anyone before?” You do not know it yet, but that phrase will be the custom-made key to unlock every room and hallway of your castle. You will say this phrase more times than you could ever imagine.

You will say it to strangers with sweaty palms and tear-filled eyes. You will say it to strangers who will become your closest friends. You will say it so many times that not only will it knock down the walls between you and real connection, but it will become a weapon—a sword that looks a lot like vulnerability. 

I could tell you so many things. I could whisper about the romantic love and heartbreak you will fall in and out of. I could scream from the rooftops about adventures and opportunities you will have the privilege to experience. I could laugh until my sides ache over how you have stumbled less than gracefully through the last four years. Yet, the best thing I could tell you is that you will be free because of your choice to be honest and vulnerable. 

You will be free because of your choice to be honest and vulnerable. 

You will soon realize after your time on the mountain that the “worst things about yourself” are also the keys to the deepest connections you will ever know. Soon the castle doors will be open, others will be invited in. 

You are on the cusp of something that will only be the beginning. What a good beginning it will be.

Love,
Kylie 

Image via Sarah and Chris Rhoads of We are the Rhoads, Darling Issue 16

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5 comments

  1. Wow. Truly beautiful. The line, “you will soon realize after your time on the mountain that the ‘worst things about yourself’ are also the keys to the deepest connections you will ever know” gives me CHILLS. Thank you for sharing your story and for being vulnerable… It’s obvious that the people in your life are better off because of who you are and your willingness to seek authenticity. AMAZING WRITER OVER HERE!!!

  2. I’m currently a college freshman and this really hit home. Also I love the metaphor of the Castle, keys, and rooms. There is a lot of wisdom in this.

    1. It’s so beautiful right! We hope you enjoy your college career and know there’s so much goodness in this chapter of your life and afterward as well.

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