A Letter to My Freshman Self

If you could talk to your freshman self, what would you say?

By Clancy Kimble

I spent my weekend going through the box shoved in the back of my closet where I put all my lame high school stuff: a movie ticket from my first real date with a boy, my prom corsage, rocks and shells from the lake where I spent my summers, and a letter addressed to “senior Clancy”. This was written to me in August of 2019 by a self-conscious, stressed-out, and blonde Clancy. As I read it, I realized how much I’ve changed over the past four years. It made me want to go back in time and knock some sense into my old self, tell her that she was just fine the way she was and to quit worrying about what everybody thinks. I thought to myself, “freshman Clancy would absolutely loose her marbles if she could see senior Clancy”, so here goes. Freshman Clancy, you’re going to want to sit down for this.

Clancy on her first day of freshman year

Dear freshman Clancy,

 As I am writing this it is April 21, 2023. It is my second to last month of senior year. Everyone puts all this pressure on senior year, like I’m somehow supposed to be an adult and know what I’m doing with my life in a month when I walk across the stage. Here’s a secret, I don’t have it all figured out. There’s no magic switch that flips when you wake up your first day of senior year, and suddenly you know all the secrets of the universe- like how to do taxes or what temperature you’re supposed to wash whites on. I may look the part, but deep down I’m still a scared little freshman and I’m just as nervous as you are. Comforting, I know.

You said, “If I screw up now, my whole life is going to suck. I’ve never been the smartest kid in class and I’m absolutely terrified that I’m not going to amount to anything in high school. Not in a cheesy indie film kinda way, “I don’t wanna be just another face in the yearbook”, I mean I’m scared that I’m going to spend these next four years working my butt off and it still not being enough.”

I won’t sugar-coat it, you were not “top of the class” by any means. And that’s okay. That’s something that I still need to bash into my own brain. Everything is going to work out. Sure, I still lay awake at night feeling like someone punched me in the stomach because I got an 18 on my ACT, but that doesn’t define my whole life going forward. I feel like I’m not smart enough for college, and maybe I’m not. However, I have a lot of other strengths. You couldn’t possibly know this now, but there is a LOT more to school than being “smart”. At the end of these four years, you’re going to enter the real world. The real world doesn’t care if you had a 4.0 GPA, or if you were the best athlete on the team. The real world wants you to be kind, and helpful, and understanding. Surround yourself with people who will help you become that person.

“How did we do in school? Are we going to go to college? If so, what for?”

Despite all your self-doubt, you are going to college. Not beauty school, a real four-year university. I’m majoring in elementary education and minoring in English. See, everything worked out in the end.

 “Right now I’m not really doing anything, I wish I was more involved but I guess I’m just too scared. Of what, I don’t really know. Rejection? Judgement? I have no idea, I’m just scared. I run cross country because I didn’t make the cheer team and as you know mom and dad have the “one club one sport” rule. Scratch that, I did make the cheer team as the tenth alternate for the JV team. I got to come to a week of practice and wear the uniform for one whole day. It was quite thrilling.”

An image we are sure would send freshman Clancy into shock

You’ll be pleased to find out that throughout your high school career, you’re going to do a lot of amazing things, such as become the editor of your school’s paper, start your own business, and become captain of the cheer team. Oh, did I not mention that? You’re totally a cheerleader now. A real cheerleader. In fact, you’re going to continue to cheer in college. So, to answer your question, no we never did break twenty for a 5k, our athletic goals have completely shifted.  

“Did we ever have a boyfriend? Are we going to follow a boy to college and get married and be a PTA mom? Or has that dream fizzled out by now? I’ve never had one so far.”

Yes, we did have a few boyfriends. Your first kiss coming up, in fact. Don’t get attached to any of them, they all turned out to be extremely disappointing. Yes, it is still my dream to be a PTA mom who drives a minivan and bakes really awesome homemade cookies, but that dream is on the backburner for now.

“I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve ever really felt pretty. Can you? I know my worth isn’t decided by boys or whatever else they’d tell me, but just once I’d really like to be the friend that has a date to a dance. Or have a birthday party that everyone comes to and has a great time. The next day everyone would be talking about it and the people who didn’t come would wish they did. Nobody ever comes to my birthday parties.”

Yes, I have had moments where I’ve felt pretty. Not a lot, but I think I generally feel better about myself on a day-to-day basis. This is majorly due to who I surround myself with; I’ve stopped hanging out with people who make me feel bad about myself. I still haven’t had a birthday party like the one you described. The closest, I think, would be my 17th birthday. I invited my entire cheer team, a few classmates, and the boy I was talking to at the time. I’d say maybe eight people showed up, and no, the boy was not one of them. You ate leftover smores for the next two weeks. I did have a date to my junior prom. I got back together with my ex-boyfriend just so that I’d have a date, and I had a terrible time. I thought that by having a date somehow my prom would be a magical experience, but it wasn’t.

“I’ve always kinda been the “sidekick friend”. The one that is the butt of all the jokes and never gets invited places. I feel like if I disappeared that nobody would really miss me at all.”

I think that the biggest thing you need to learn right now is that you don’t need to be like everyone else. It’s okay to eat lunch by yourself. It’s okay to not go to all the dances, or all the parties. Ask yourself, do you even like the people that you’re hanging out with? Why are you stressing yourself out worrying if these people like you? I know this must be devastating for you to hear, but high school is a tiny spec in the big picture of your life. Don’t waste this small moment being miserable because you keep hanging out with people that you don’t even like. I’m at the point in my life where I would rather be alone than surround myself with friends that use me as a punchline. You’ll learn that in time.

 “But in your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team, but I didn’t know it at fifteen” Taylor Swift totally hit it on the head with this one, as she always does. You’re fourteen and I don’t blame you for being dramatic about literally everything. However, high school is going to go by so fast, and in four years you’re not even going to remember the names of all the people that you so badly want to like you right now. You won’t even remember how scared you feel, like you’ll never be enough. I know that I am enough, even if I mess up, even if I totally fail. I’ve failed a lot, but I’d rather fail than live my life wishing I had tried. Life will go on. Take a deep breath, dust yourself off and try again.

One of Clancy’s senior photos

I’ll leave you with this: high school was not everything that you hoped it would be. But it was everything that I hoped it would be. Everything that I learned and experienced these past four years has turned me into the person that I am as I’m writing this- and I really like that person. I think that you need to let go of any expectations you have of what high school will be like that you developed from Disney movies. High school is just another four years of school that you’re going to forget about once you walk across the stage with your diploma in hand. In ten years, I’m going to be making fun of you to my kids. Sure, there were moments I’ll remember forever, getting a standing ovation opening night of my sophomore musical, being told I was captain of the cheer team, getting dumped over the phone way too many times, and my freshman year being cut short due to a global pandemic. Yeah, I didn’t really mention that one. I don’t think I want to spoil that for you, now you’ll have something to look forward to. The best thing for you to do right now is pay attention in math class and stay away from the red hair dye. You’re going to be okay.

Don’t worry about me- I am happy.

I wish you all the best,

Senior Clancy