College

Dear Carly

After visiting Georgetown last week, I had been seriously thinking about what I would tell myself as a freshman if I were to write her a letter. I wish I could tell her all the spoiler alerts, but I know she wouldn’t believe it. (And I think that those amazing things should still remain surprises!) But I wish I could go back in time and give myself a little pep talk for those confusing and the difficult times. I actually wish my 37-year-old self could send me a letter or two right now, too. All in due time, I’m sure.

Dear Carly,

You’re just about done with packing the last box to bring to college. (You may want to go back through and take out about half the clothes… You won’t need as much as you think!) As you packed those boxes, you grappled with the fear of leaving behind what you know and the excitement of walking into something completely unknown.

Your idea of what college is going to be like isn’t quite on the mark and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those dreams you have of excelling in classes, bonding with friends in your dorm, and finding yourself over the four years will happen… but not quite in the way you expect. There will also be heartache, and stress, and sadness. You will feel lost as you navigate through life. But you will find yourself! At the end of the four years, you will barely recognize yourself. College won’t be the catalyst for the transformation; instead, your choices and blind faith in yourself will change you for the better.

You will embrace the gray area, have your heart played with by wrong guys (just turn your phone off after midnight), struggle and ultimately succeed in tough classes, learn so much from your classmates, and fail. Oh, will you fail.

You will fail in a way you think you can’t recover from without realizing that it’s the failures that turn into the greatest lessons and the greatest opportunities. Lean into the failure, learn from the failure, and rise from the failure. Even when you don’t believe you can, you will because up is the only way out when you’re at the bottom.

Keep calling mom, write more, read everything you can get your hands on. Believe in yourself, stand up for others. Follow your heart.

You’re at the end of the security of childhood, but Carly, you are at the very beginning of the ultimate adventure.

Love,

Carly

32 Comments

Andrea

Yes!! This!! Love your honesty and openness here; this is so sage and so spot-on. Thank you!

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Britt Brindle

Reading this brought a tear to my eye. Such good advice! Love you and your blog. I read it daily. You are one of my inspirations in life :))) Keep it up!

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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Love, love, love that third-to-last paragraph about failure 🙂 Before arriving at college, incoming first-years were asked to write letters to themselves. I partook in that exercise and even posted it to my blog! My previous semester was a tough one, but I stumbled upon the letter I wrote to myself, and even though I found the letter written from my past-self to be a bit naive, I couldn’t help but be inspired by my enthusiasm and hunger for everything. What about writing a letter to your future self? 😀 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

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Karen

Beautiful letter. I’m 3/4s through my university degree and I still feel like I’m blindly going into everything! I really hope once I’m your age, I can write a letter to myself now with the same amount of experience and wisdom <3
Have a Stylin' Day!
Much Love, Karen
[Style Smorgasbord] [bloglovin’]

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Meghan

I’ve been a longtime reader and this might be one of my favorite posts that you’ve ever written!

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Zoe

This made me so happy. I am a senior in high school who just started a blog, and you’re growth and success is so reassuring. I love everything you do and this was an inspiration I needed.

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Andrea

Dear Carly,
I am a long time follower. For about 5 years, the first thing I do while enjoying my morning coffee is to read your blog.

I fell in love with your honesty, easy to read posts, great advice and encouragement.

To be completely honest, I did have a hard time appreciating your content when you turned it into your full-time job. It felt less real, disconnected, distant.

But I am more than glad that I did not give up on your blog and that neither did you. Though you might be having one of the harder moments in your life right now, navigating through post break-up sadness and rebuilt, I have to say one thing. The hardship in your life might have been the best thing to happen to your blog once again.

I suddenly (or not so suddenly, more for the past months) feel the old Carly back. The honest, relatable, vulnerable and oh so strong. The one that feels like the older sister with her advice. The one that enlightens one’s mood with easy fashion posts without pushing the product too much. And most importantly the one that gives courage through her own struggle, giving hope to others struggling too.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. For all of that and more.

Andrea

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Nicole

Carly– this was such a great post. As a second semester freshman in college, this post was definitely much appreciated and much needed. There have been so many ups and downs already, but I know this crazy journey will be worth the ride in the end!

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Lucy

Absolutely love this. As a freshman in college I’m still learning so much so this is very helpful to sit back and enjoy the ride and realize that even when you’re at rock bottom, that’s still a place to stand.

xx Lucy

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Emily

This is beautifully written, Carly! Learning through the tough times and the good times are what makes us stronger, wiser and better people in the long-run. I have followed your blog for a few years now and wanted to thank you for sharing with us the good time and the bad, you have really become a smart, mature, fun-loving young woman and a great role model for younger generations!

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Molly

Reading this gave me the chills and brought tears to my eyes! This could not be more on point for the letter I wish I could have sent to my younger self. I loved reading this so much. It’s wild to think back to those times and how new and life changing everything was/seemed. I love that you mentioned that college wasn’t quite what you expected, because I think so many girls and boys get caught up in what college “should” be and have trouble accepting that everyone has a different experience, which doesn’t make your experience any less “normal” than the next.

Perfectly said, Carly! I’ve said it before, but I just adore your honesty and realness! xo

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Devon Hembury

Loved this, Carly. I feel the exact same away– I would write so many of the same things to myself. I’d also just tell myself not to be so hard on myself and to realize that a failed test isn’t going to matter in a year (or heck, even in a week)! xo Devon Seventeen Dresses

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Jen Kessler

I love your last line, “you are at the very beginning of the ultimate adventure.” It’s so true of that age in general. Everything begins to open up to you as opportunity and you can make of life what you want. Finally free from the restrictions of living at home with your parents and just mentally matured enough to really start to grasp that the world really is your oyster. 🙂

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Oda

Thank you for your honesty Carly! I have two more years left of my masters degree and I’ve been through many ups and downs already. Your post just shows that I have to embrace both the good and the bad, and realise that failure is a part of the whole university experience ☺

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Shannon Karup

Your writing voice has such vibrance and depth. This reminded me of when we had you write letters to yourself in elementary school that you then received your senior year in high school. Always love reading your blog, Carly!

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Rylee Field

Oh, Carly. I loved this so much – not to be odd, but it brought tears to my eyes. I am in such a hard season of life (for so many good a difficult reasons!) And it’s always so…comforting to hear that others have been there, others have made it through, and others understand those confusing and difficult times too. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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Diane Munoz

This is absolute perfection. I had my first taste of failure in college too and I did not take it well. Having a cool, successful woman like you write about overcoming failure is going to inspire so many girls heading into their Freshman year. I’ll be sharing this letter with my clients!

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