I could've used a lot of help when I turned 18 and went off to college. I've made a lot of mistakes and memories since then, and I often think back to who I was four years ago and wonder how I made it through everything.
There were good times, there were bad times, times that made me feel alive, times that made me question everything and times that ultimately forced me to grow up.
I'm thankful for these times because they've taught me valuable lessons, but there are times I wish I knew these lessons beforehand so I wouldn't have had to go through the pain of learning them.
I'm 22 years old now and I'm living a life I never could've imagined for myself. If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself these seven things:
1. Freshman year of college is going to be a nightmare.
And that's putting it mildly.
You're going to make lots of new friends and you're going to lose some. You're going to think that taking 10 shots of vodka to get drunk for the first time is a good idea, and you'll be wrong.
You'll also be wrong about who you sleep with. As much as you want them to be right for you, nine times out of 10, they won't be. But please, don't let them destroy you for too long because it's not your fault.
Apart from that, you'll dye your hair red and go running through the sprinklers at 2 am just because and it'll be the most fun you ever had.
2. Some friendships won't last forever, but that's OK.
I know it'll seem sad when the best friends you had in high school aren't your friends anymore. If I'm being honest, the loss of those friendships will still sting occasionally, but eventually you'll accept the fact that things will never be the same.
You're going to do so much growing up in the coming years, you'll grow apart from people you thought would be there for you forever and you will change. Not everyone will like or want to be a part of that change, and that's OK.
The people who really matter will stay by you through thick and thin, and those are the lasting friendships you want.
3. Studying abroad will be the best time of your life.
Enjoy the baguettes and Nutella while you can, because that semester will fly by much faster than you want it to.
You'll spend your nights in pubs after drinking cheap bottles of wine, and you'll kiss random strangers whose languages you won't quite understand.
You'll fall in love with the cities of Italy, spend a week with your family in Switzerland and reunite with your freshman-year roommate in Scotland.
Some of the best nights will be with your best friend, eating pasta and watching every rom-com imaginable. You'll come home after five months realizing that everything is the same as how you left it and because of this, you're going to hate America for a while. Don't worry, it does get better.
4. Unrequited love is its own kind of hell.
Unfortunately, you're going to become quite the pro at liking men who don't end up liking you back. There are going to be many, many men that come and go over the next four years, so don't take anything too personally when those relationships end. You'll eventually learn that you were pursuing the wrong guys at the wrong time.
After you graduate, you're going to meet someone on New Year's Eve and he'll be different than all the rest. He'll make you believe in the magic of beginnings again. One very important piece of advice: Don't fall in love with him.
When you fall in love for the first time, it should be with someone who's going to fall in love with you too. You won't get what you want from him, so do your best to leave the memories of him in the past and be grateful he taught you how to open up again.
5. After you graduate, your world will fall apart for a little bit.
You're going to feel lost for a while, because no matter how many times you tell people you adapt well to change, deep down you know it's a lie.
You'll be terrified of what comes next, and you'll have a grand idea for how you want your life to turn out. Please don't hold onto that idea too tightly because almost nothing will happen the way you expect it to. Having too many ideas and no actual way of turning them into a reality will be overwhelming, and you'll only disappoint yourself in the long run.
Do your best to not let your expectations for life get the better of you because you're going to make it one day. You'll get to do the things that you want, so don't worry too much about the way things play out. They end up alright in the end.
6. A bad day in New York City is still better than a good day anywhere else.
Do you want the harsh truth? Moving to New York is going to be the hardest thing you'll ever do, even though it's also the very best decision you'll ever make for yourself.
You'll question why you came, you'll doubt how qualified or ready you are to be here and you'll consider going back home to Texas because that would be the easy and painless option.
Staying and finding an apartment and job will be incredibly stressful and tiresome, but I promise you you'll laugh about it in six months.
Whenever you're feeling defeated, it'll help to look up at the Empire State Building. One glance of that building on your commute to work every morning puts everything back into perspective, I promise.
7. Prepare yourself for a wild ride.
You're going to do so many crazy, reckless, beautiful, impulsive, careless, stupid and messy things on your way to growing up.
You'll spend some nights crying yourself to sleep, and some nights you'll be too drunk to make it out of your bedroom door. The best nights, though, will be spent sitting up on the roof watching shooting stars or going out for a night on the town with your friends and being perfectly and incandescently happy.
It's not always going to be easy, but whatever happens is going to be worth it.