The Nexus

Senior Nexans write letters to freshman selves

Hi YJ (9),

You think you know it all right now. You’ve got it all figured out—a 14-year-old kid who thinks he’s smarter, better-looking, and cooler than everyone.
You think you’re one of those types who are smart but just don’t try—that if you cared enough, you would do well. You think you’re too good to even glance at some of the people around you.
You are also, incidentally, lonely. And unsurprisingly so. But deep down, you’re scared of that. You have no idea what “self-worth” is, because you’ve only ever valued yourself based on someone else’s opinion.
But don’t worry, I’m here to bring you good news.
It gets better. In time, you’ll learn what it means to take some time for yourself. You’ll spend hours laying in your bed, staring at the ceiling, with your thoughts racing so fast you think your head might implode. It doesn’t, thankfully, but I’ll warn you that your head will feel heavy for the next 4 years. You’ll learn what it means to be vulnerable—like a flower in the rain, with its petals exposed to the storm. You’ll learn how to be heard. You’ll let yourself scream.
Still, I can’t really tell you things get much easier. In fact, it gets really, really hard. But I hope you’re encouraged by the fact that I’m still here. Some words of advice:

You are enough.
Remember your name.
Find a place where you can write. That little stack of papers you scoff at in Homeroom might be a start.

I wish I could tell you to prepare, but we both know you hate locking yourself down to anything. I still do.
YJ, be patient with yourself. No flower blooms all year.

YJ (12)
咏志

 

Dear Michelle, 

How wonderful it is to start high school! I don’t think I can fit everything I’ve ever wanted to tell you into this letter. These four years are going to pass by so quickly, yet so slowly. You’ll come to figure out what’s best for you, and I know we don’t like changes, but they will inevitably happen, so enjoy them along the way. You don’t know what you are doing most times and you are not going to know. And that’s okay. Try new things, join new clubs and meet new people. I know you’ll want to stay tucked away in your comfort zone, but the overwhelming fear of the unprecedented will eventually lead you out like it always has. 

You are probably surprised that I’m writing to you through the newspaper, or even writing to you at all. I could give you a step-by-step guide on how to live each day and what clubs to join and so on. But who’s to say what’s best for you? Don’t worry about other people’s judgment as much as you do now, and take a chance on things. My experience tells me that you only get one shot at this, so really do make the most out of it. (And stop worrying so much!) 

Savor the moments that are important to you, because the time goes by so damn fast. 

Love you always, 

Michelle 

 

Dear Freshman Cara, 

As you read this, you’re probably stressing about school work and what other people think about you. To be honest, this will be the same in four years, even after a pandemic. But at least you won’t place as much value on these things. 

There isn’t really much advice I’d give you, but I can give you some warnings: 

First, that pandemic I mentioned earlier? Actually a pretty big thing. Your life will change a lot and you’ll feel disconnected from everyone else. You might feel like you should just let that disconnect happen because it’s “inevitable.” Don’t. Reach out to friends and family. Try new things. Quarantine will be a crazy and entirely new situation but use that to your advantage. 

Second, high school is full of ups and downs. The minor things you don’t pay attention to will lead you to people and experiences that will change you for the better. A wet Mock Trial poster on the D-building bathroom floor will lead to a spontaneous interview, which will eventually lead to you walking into Spiess’ room while swirling a cup of black coffee. You’ll annoy a group of people who will become your closest friends. All of this will happen and you won’t expect a single thing. Remember to be open and willing to do new things. 

That’s basically it. Stop worrying about everything. Things will work out the way they need to. Just let it be. 

See you in four years, 

Cara Tran (12)

 

Dear freshman Yufei,

High school may seem daunting now, so a quick heads up: you’re about to grow a lot in four years (not so much vertically), but in terms of personality and outlook. So let me give you some tips to keep in mind the next four years:

First, keep a diary, journal, google doc, anything to document your experiences. The next four years are going to be packed with memories, friends, and treasured family moments that you’re going to wish you can remember forever.

Second, practice driving and get your license as soon as possible. Seriously. Do not push it off or you’re going to end up desperately trying to learn how to dive in your senior year—it’s not fun. 

You may be wondering why I haven’t given you any academic or extracurricular advice. Well, it’s because I want you to learn through your experiences. You’re going to be academically challenged, thrown outside your comfort zone socially, and even face a pandemic. But through it all, you’ll better understand yourself, and eventually love the person you’re becoming.

Good luck freshie,

Senior Yufei

 

Dear Carter (9),

So I have two things that I simply have to tell you.

The first thing is about your hair. Change it. Please. I’m begging you. You’ve had that cut for around 10 years now. Maybe try to vary it a little. Find what’s you. Because that haircut is very much not you.

The second thing is that The Nexus is not kindling. You know what I’m talking about. And you know what, it turns out that you come to love The Nexus. So maybe read it a bit more.

Oh and a third thing. I almost forgot this one, but it’s important: There is more to the world than your little corner. 

Freshman year is hard, and there’s no shame in being nervous about meeting new people or joining clubs or sports. But you shouldn’t wait until senior year to figure everything out.

Before you know it, you’ll wish you’d have done so many things differently.

And I’m not gonna spout out that before you know it, your time is going to run out, because everybody thinks that at one point or another. But don’t wait around and expect things to happen. Make things happen. Make the most of your four years.

And find what makes you happy. Your definition of happiness is probably just sitting at home, but trust me, that’ll change.  

I told a friend recently that even though not everything had panned out the way I expected to, I was still happy. 

So just know that whatever happens, you make it here, and you’re happy. And that’s all that matters. 

Good luck bud. 

Toodles,

Carter (12)

 

 

Dear Matthew (9),

I know it’s been a bit hard for you this first year at Westview. I get it. All your friends went to MC, there’s a lot of drama running around, and it’s really hard to fit in and find where you belong.

I know a lot of times you’ve felt irrelevant, untalented, and frankly dumb compared to everyone here at this highly competitive school. But believe me, through your doubt, you will find those who truly need you in their lives and give you the love and support to keep going every day.

I also want to tell you that it’s ok to make mistakes. Though today we still carry the burden of some grave mistakes, it helps us become better person.

There are so many things I wish I could tell you to do and not do, things that you could’ve changed or done differently. It keeps me up at night thinking how different life would be right now.

But those decisions would have never led you to be the me we are today.

And trust me, you’ve grown more than you could ever imagine.

So go out there and have fun, make some memories, and do what you love. Make sure to mess around and get in trouble while you’re at it—’cause high school only comes around once in a lifetime, and you should treasure every moment of your journey.

Matthew Flores (12)

 

Hi Julia,

I’m sorry to have to spoil the plot for you, but if there’s anything that I remember about where you are now, it’s that you were always too busy lamenting over what you didn’t do, that you never left any room to feel proud of what you did do. So, because I know what’s best for you now, and because I know you’re not yet capable of doing it yourself, I’ll make room for you here: 

You didn’t keep your promises to each other. Your relationships with your freshman best friends will become nothing more than the occasional smile and wave exchanged in the hallways. But, your distance will allow you to grow in separate directions, and you’ll learn to extend yourself to others in ways that you never thought you were capable of. 

You didn’t get into Harvard. And no, it’s not because you finally got a B (which you did, and in English of all classes). You’re going to question whether all those all-nighters and extra credit assignments that you didn’t need to do were worth it, but I’m here to assure you that they were. 

You never found the perfect words to express your thoughts and feelings. But, eventually, you do find your voice, and you use it to tell your peers’ stories in the pages of The Nexus.

And perhaps the most damning of them all, you’ll never reach 5’5”—you won’t even come close. Your growth over these next four years can’t be quantified in physical increments, but by your increased ability to love, trust, and stand on your own two tiny feet. 

I hope if anything, you can be proud of that. But if you can’t yet, that’s okay. I know you’ll get there, and for now, I can be proud enough for the both of us. 

 To making room, 

 Julia

Dear Freshman Sara,

High school is scary. And it has nothing to do with the people around you. You will find yourself changing throughout these four years and all I can say is embrace it. 

You spend too much time worrying about how other people will perceive you and you will eventually come to find that their opinions on you do not matter. Once you embrace your passions and interests you will not only feel more confident in yourself, but you will find yourself surrounded by people who truly love you for who you are. Don’t waste time on people who make you feel like you have to be someone else.

I know this is easier said than done, but sometimes you have to say it in order to make yourself do it. 

You have always kept your thoughts to yourself, but you need to speak up. When someone talks over you, tell them. When someone makes an offensive comment, tell them. When someone breaks your heart, tell them. Once you start forcing yourself to become vocal, you will find yourself doing it naturally, and you’ll need to for the rest of your life.

You’re going to go through a lot throughout these four years but you will survive. And you learn. Everyone says that high school becomes the most formative years of your life but it’s hard to believe until you live through it. So cherish the moments you have with your friends and just know that everything will be okay.

Yours forever, 

Senior Sara

 

Hi Jayden,

I know the world is big. And scary. I know about your fight-or-flight that kicks in when you see a new face. I know about the struggles of having a will to succeed without a clear path to fulfill it. I know you’re lonely, and honestly, I’m a little lonely too. 

I wish I could hold your hand right now and guide you through each obstacle I know you’re bound to face. But I can’t. I wish I could tell you that in four years you’ll find the solution to bring you unending happiness and fulfillment. But I can’t.

But what I can do is impart on you the single greatest lesson I’ve gained in the past four years: you are not constant. You are a complex, multifaceted individual who will adapt, flow, improve—each mind you cross paths with, connection you build, friend you lose, will change you. Everything you think you know about yourself can and will be changed. 

I need you to be happy with where you are while also knowing that now is not forever. I want you to know that you’ll never be satisfied with yourself if your happiness is state-dependent. Know that you’ll cringe and kick yourself for that failed joke or awkward conversation with that girl you like and understand that those moments are what creates growth. I want you to relish those moments, to relish struggle and discomfort. 

Believe that you are enough—you are more loved, mature, and a little taller than you think.

Jayden Xia 

Dear freshman Jenna,

How’re you doing right now?

I don’t really know what to say to you except, I’m sorry. I didn’t take care of you the way I should’ve and I promise you do deserve happiness and love. I know you won’t believe it now and honestly, sometimes I forget it too, but trust me, you do have value to the people around you, and they care.

You even learn to find value in yourself. Crazy, I know. 

I wish I could tell you that in high school, things get so much easier and that the worst is going to be behind you, but I will say that although it’s hard, you get through it. You’ll learn so much about yourself during these next four years, your strengths, your true character, and what you’ll find most important: you learn to not be afraid of trying new things and making mistakes. 

Remember, you’re a person, people mess up, and you can’t dedicate your life to trying to be someone you’re not. 

The sooner you try to see yourself from a non-biased point of view, the sooner you’ll see the wonderful parts of yourself. You don’t have to live in fear of your own mind and body. 

I’m rooting for you, and I wish you the best!

Love,

Senior Jenna <3

Dear freshman Sophia,

The next four years of your life will pass by faster than you can imagine. Instead of doing and re-doing your four-year plan, take a breath and enjoy the present.

I know that it’s cliché, advice you’ve heard time and time again, but if there’s a chance that hearing it from me—from you—will be the time it finally sinks in, it’s worth another shot:

– Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, but not the way you’ve planned it.

– Look into study abroad programs now—the free ones—and start applying as soon as possible.

And that’s all the advice I have for you. I know you may be disappointed, I know you would prefer a step-by-step manual on how to live your life, but I’ll just leave it at that. I’ll let you make the same mistakes I’ve made and learn from them just the same.

You have four years of high school ahead of you, full of growth and good times. So in the meantime, before you meet me, before you become the version of yourself we are now, make sure to stop once in a while and smell the roses, so to speak. Go to the movies on weeknights, long drives at midnight, and know that everything is going to be okay—another cliché, I know.

Love,

Senior Sophia

 
 
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Senior Nexans write letters to freshman selves

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  • V

    V0XJun 3, 2022 at 11:36 am

    YJ’s letter was really touching and I’m not even freshman YJ (promise). Great read, and I’ll miss your work man, if y’all ever read these 🙂

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