You’re at another transitional point in life right now, and the uncertainty scares you. You’re beyond thrilled to finally move out and take full command of your future. But you’re also terrified of failure, of disappointing your own lofty expectations. So here’s what 18-year-old Ang wants to remind you when you need a level head:
Never forget that your life is yours. Luck unavoidably plays a factor in successes and setbacks alike, but don’t dwell on circumstances you can’t control. Instead, the most influential determinant of your life trajectory lies in what you choose to do with these opportunities and/or curveballs.
You’ve dreamt big from the beginning, and you’re determined to actualize those aspirations. I know even now that there will come a time when you’ll be crushed. Maybe you’ll apply to a dream internship only to never hear back, or you’ll mess up big on an important project. And it’ll hurt so bad because you’re such a meticulous planner when it comes to your vocational path, but you never quite accommodate for all the sharp turns along the way.
So accept that whatever happened has happened, and move on to your next plan. Not only is failure inevitable for literally anybody with a pulse, but you don’t know if it might actually reveal a road to still more desirable destinations. Yet even if it really was nothing but a loss, you nevertheless created an opportunity to learn from experience. There’s a reason why success is so elusive even to those who persevere, and you’re now one step closer to figuring that out.
All I ask is that, no matter what transpires in the years ahead, you remember your outlook at 18 years old. You had raised yourself to always make the most of what you had. Now you’ve got all the amazing things in the world ahead of you.
Do you remember the sheer volume of tears you shed after being waitlisted by what you were so set on as your dream school? You’d mentally prepared for the decades of debt you were willing to dive into just to attend. But you were freed from that, and you’re so grateful—not just for the six figures of tuition saved, but for what you now see in the home you initially overlooked.
Never in your wildest dreams did you dare hope you could pursue an education for virtually no cost, at a school committed to making everything possible for you, in the very environment you thrive in. You’re studying what you love at a top journalism institution, and investing that passion in the plethora of on- and off-campus opportunities that come with such an urban (and historically significant) location.
This is exactly what you had yearned so desperately for as soon as you had any idea of what you wanted out of college. Please don’t ever take any of it for granted. Though the novelty will wear off, don’t at any point dismiss how incredibly lucky you are. You’re out here living what your high school self fantasized about night after night in Diamond Bar, so keep that fire ignited. I’m betting on you to impress me with how you grow and what you accomplish.
But do also realize that you can grind too hard sometimes, because work is often your escape. It’s okay to take advantage of your ceaseless hunger for productivity, but understand that your health deserves priority, too.
I love you, and I trust you.