from the archives: a letter to me

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so pepperdine university class of 2012 (oh hi, has it been SIX years since my own graduation? woof) is set to get all sentimental, grab their diplomas, throw off their caps (and then promptly find them amidst the chaos so as to fashion them on their mantles as a memento to commemorate four years and well, let’s not talk about the dollars spent, of hard work and trips to the caf), and enter into the real world (see also: graduate) on saturday and reflection over this detail has me a wee bit (okay, maybe more than a “wee bit” a LOT bit) nostalgic. so in honor of the future wave alums (congrats, y’all), i’m going to shamelessly re-post one of my favorite posts of all time: a letter to me.

it seems as though every time i turn around these days someone’s son/daughter/niece/nephew/cousin/neighbor/co-worker’s grandson is headed off to their first year of college; bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a four year long (maybe more, maybe less) adventure and an extended twin bed awaiting them.

and when the topic came up yet again last night as i met with new members in the living room of the club, i couldn’t help but allow my heart to get the tiniest bit of wrenched as i flashed back to my first days at pepperdine, trucker hat (i mean, seriously?) adorned and matching hot pink clothes hangers in tow.

and gosh, if i could go back and tell myself a few things, i would. and since they haven’t perfected that whole time traveling thing yet, i’ll simply write a love note to that unassuming eighteen-year-old gal. with a few lines of wisdom from her (obviously more mature, seasoned, and poised…right) version, eight years her senior.

dear college freshman shawna,

i know you’re sweating right now but i promise, the heat will subside in your dorm room (probably not until november, though), so invest in a bigger oscillating fan and make friends with people in lower dorm road.

next time, let’s not go with coordinating shades of pink for every lampshade, bed sheet, shower caddy and desk accessory. i think you’re making your roommate nervous.

also, let’s not graduate in three years, k? many friends told you that “graduating in three years is like leaving the party, early.” they were kind of right. the “the real world,” isn’t as cool as they make it out to be on tv. that big girl apartment and wardrobe full of business casual clothes are nice and all, but so is that off-campus malibu condo you’re sharing with five of your besties and jeans, jeans are a novelty. wear the heck out of yours now.

do not, i repeat, do not allow anyone to sway you from submitting that study abroad application to florence, italy. germany is cold. germany has terrible food. and you’ve already taken a semester of italian, and guess what? you’re really good at italian.

can you cut yourself a break every now and then? i know size zero supermodels roam that campus in droves but you’ve spent far too many nights sustaining on luna bars and reduced sodium vegetable soup. eat a bagel. eat an oasis sandwich. eat malibu yo four times in one week. you’ve got to release those demons from your past. you are beautiful and people like you. not just because they have to because you’re their “sister” (itb, what what) because you’re funny, and witty and can entertain them with your celebrity gossip knowledge. so eat that woodranch roll or five. drench it in that delicious barbecue sauce and savor every morsel. and lay off the gym time, you go to pepperdine. it’s full of hills, stairs and inclines. those alone will take care of the glutes.

invest in your relationships. you do a really good job at this now, but you could always use a reminder. never again will all of your closest friends live in a commune-esque facility. you will take for granted the fact that all it takes to round up the troops is a two-second jaunt down the stairs and to their apartment on the second floor.

you’re sadly not going to earn your em-arr-ess degree during your three-year stint at pepp. many of your friends (and mere acquaintances) will. don’t be jealous, your time will come. but you will meet a lot of really fabulous men (that will encourage you that your prince charming is out there.) some not so fabulous, too. you will kiss one or five of them. and one might even steal a piece of your heart. don’t over analyze so much. just go with it. flirt. stay ten minutes longer after convo to chat it up with the cutie from your humanities class. make more “study dates.” cross the boundary from “just friends” to “boyfriend/girlfriend.” you never know what could be unless you try. plus if you fall flat on your face, at least it makes for a good story (and a good blogpost, oh yes, you become a blogger, down the road).

you love spanish, i know, but maybe choose it as a minor. why not major in something that allows you to exercise your artistic side? the comm building is the place to be and be seen. perhaps a degree in advertising, multi-media design or heck, even creative writing might suit you well.

eat at cholada. it apparently has the best thai food in town. and also? eat fish. it’s really really good and really good for you. don’t be so scared of it. and being in malibu you have seafood restaurants at your fingertips! take advantage of this. and double also? get the pancakes and bowl of granola more often at marmalade cafe. you’ll eat enough oatmeal in your twenties to sink a ship, so why not mix it up a little?

face it, you’ll have a love/hate relationship with that drive through the canyon. but please be careful. those roads are windy and people drive way too fast. pull over and let those crazies pass if you have to. it’s not worth giving yourself a mini heart attack every time you get onto the road.

make more mixed cds. that drive from encinitas to malibu is a long one. everyone knows long car rides can instantly be made better with a little spontaneous car dancing. therefore, invest in a few (hundred) good tracks for your repertoire. you can never go wrong with britney.

it’s the 405, not the 5. (you make that mistake a few times).

go to more pepperdine sporting events. it’s fun to have school spirit, even if you don’t have a football team. learn to love basketball (it will come in handy later). heck, why not go to a water polo match? the players are not bad to look at and you might even get a tan. and lastly, don’t let anyone make you feel awkward for going to baseball games. but be warned, there are baseball groupies and they are territorial. just kill ’em with kindness and try not to cheer too loudly for their boyfriends, they really hate that.

lastly, do a photo shoot with the pepperdine sign out in front of campus (the one near john tyler and alumni field). you’re going to see other people doing this. follow their lead. those photos will make great keepsakes and a pleasant reminder of your journey at 24255 pacific coast highway, malibu, ca 90263.

above all else, keep your chin up. relax. try not to schedule classes on fridays. and remember, life doesn’t end with a b+ on your transcript. no one remembers their college gpa anyway.

freely ye received, freely give. orange and blue forever.

love always,
older, wiser (hopefully), real world shawna


let’s do this (they said six years ago).



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