A letter to my freshman self

Dear freshman Sandra,

Honey, you’ve got a big storm comin’. First things first, a majority of the friends you have now will not stick around through the years. Don’t worry though, it’s less of a loss and more of a win because you’ll start to find your real friends and realize who is worth keeping in your life.

That girl that was in your English group for the Greek mythology project? She’s pretty cool and funny, so you should be her friend. You’re actually also going to meet someone who looks just like her and even has the same birthday as her, and you’ll eventually gain two sisters — a foodie and one that always forgets to wear a bra. Well, three including that sassy kid that flipped everyone off before leaving freshman dance practice. I think his name is Cory. Also, that nerdy kid in your Algebra 2 class with the glasses and braces is going to become your right brain; appreciate him. And that benefit concert you’re having second thoughts on doing? Do it. That’s where you’ll find your life-long best friend.

Your dreams of being valedictorian will be crushed, but it’s okay. You’re going to be on that Pinnacle team thing that Haberman would always talk about alongside your brightest friends. Oh, and you can blame your future super stylish, never-has-bad-hair-days, intellectual AP English teacher for the B that stained your transcript… So it goes. (Just kidding, Mrs. Duffel. You’re the best.) Don’t be intimidated by the superwomen AP Lang Comp teachers we have on campus; you’re going to cross both of their paths and realize you’re actually not THAT bad of a writer… once you get past the 3’s and 5’s and finally get some 7’s.

Anyway, get some sleep, weirdo. You’ll regret losing so much sleep during the easiest year in high school when you find yourself having to pull all nighters to finish stats packets, study for anatomy and write 10-page research papers the night before the due date/test.

You’re also probably going to tell yourself that you’re going to stop procrastinating. Oh girl… It only gets worse. You might think you already have senioritis, but trust me, senioritis is A WHOLE NEW TYPE OF LAZY, and you will inevitably fall victim to it.

DO NOT GET INTO MAKEUP. Stay natural like you said you’d always be. I mean, makeup is definitely a blessing to the bomb selfies you’ll take, but it’s for sure going to be a curse to your wallet. $54 for that NAKED 3 palette? You’re trippin’. Don’t make that mistake.

Make the best out of your four years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall, and you’ll get back up stronger each time. Next thing you know, the number of days leading up to graduation will turn to single digits in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be starting the next chapter of your life. For now, enjoy everything, and just go with the flow.

Senior Sandra
P.S. Stop doing that weird pose with your hand on your hip.

Dear freshman Rachel,

Welcome to your year of firsts! Undoubtedly, they will all be messy. Your first tennis match, first rally, first love, first kiss, first date, first failed test, first time driving a car — first times were made to be imperfect. Don’t spend too much time beating yourself up about all the reckless mistakes you’ll make in high school or how many times you won’t study hard enough for a test. You’re going to make it through high school and come out even stronger.

One of your key features throughout high school will be your “bubbly personality” and your optimistic view on life, but don’t let that make you feel as if you always have to put on a smile for everyone. Some days your classes are going to stress you out because you thought it would be fun to challenge yourself with AP classes; some days you’re going to stress about your friends and the arguments you have. That’s just life. Don’t worry, though. Other days you’ll go on random adventures with your friends and you’ll manage A’s on both essays and quizzes.

I know you think grades and college are the most important thing right now, but you’re going to learn that your character matters more. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to either of them. Do your homework and study for the tests now, but avoid letting homework be the reason you can’t go out on spontaneous plans. If you can see the type of person you want to be, do not delay in becoming that person. You can be the girl at the top of the class, the girl to lead the tennis team, and the girl that your siblings look up to. Being a good person will always trump getting a 100 on a test.

The most important thing I can tell you is that the fight you had (and all the fights you will have) with Mom really isn’t that big of a deal. You’ll forget about it. You’re also going to forget about the boy that made you cry and all the restless nights you spent on finishing projects, papers, and homework. However, I hope you never forget the lessons you’ll learn throughout the next four years. When you fight with your mom, learn that she’s only looking out for your best interest. When you end relationships with people, know that you deserve better and communication is key. When you go to school running on an hour of sleep, coffee in hand, and eye bags under sunglasses, remember that the hard work will pay off in scholarship money and college acceptances.

Your future self

Dear freshman Gian,

I know you have it in your backpack, so take out that thesaurus right now and look for the word “goal.” What does it say? It’s synonymous with the word “dream”? Little me, I can tell you right now it’s far from a dream. No, not “delusion” either! Perhaps the opposite of delusion. That’s right, it’s “reality.”

Don’t get me wrong, the fruit of your goals wasn’t just doled out to me; I worked hard, and I earned it. I don’t want you to think you can be lax now because your future turned the way you wanted. You still have to go through a mountain of work (if you think your homework is like the Appalachians right now, wait until the Himalayan ranges of junior year). You still have to take a leap of faith and join speech and debate. Trust me, this one you should’ve signed up for earlier. The diversity of stories and the people you meet are astounding. You still have to drag yourself to wrestling, cross country, and track and field practices. Yes, you did those, and I apologize for not being sorry because you needed them. Not just for the weight-loss and the athletic experience, but also to be adventurous with your boundaries once in awhile.

I’m going to tell you right now not to take AP Statistics your junior year because your five-second memory of algebra will quickly fade, and it won’t be helpful with the SATs. Also, I don’t want to spoil it for you but the college you’re going to is — okay, fine I won’t say anything! I’ll just tell you what exactly your fruit is.

Ever since freshman year, you knew you wanted to make something big for your school — perhaps a video showing the culture and spirit of the Bruins. I’m proud to say you didn’t just stop at dreaming. You took charge of Film Club in your senior year. First, you and your members did a horror about the conspicuous oak tree in the school quad for Halloween. Audiences said it was more of a comedy, others a flop. With this experience, you learned that to try invites failure.

The next video you created was the video of your freshman dreams, which premiered at International Rally where everyone was there to see it. The video title is “Welcome to Bear Creek,” (watch it on Youtube). With the resilience and dedication of you and your team and the high spirit and charisma of Bear Creek, you’ve achieved something more than what you’ve imagined in your head. It is a three-minute cornucopia of smiles, cultures, activities, spirit and diversity at the Creek. The main lesson here is that your dreams are not enough: you have to try and work your way to them.
Did I also mention you’ll have the greatest time? See ‘ya later, ‘Gator!

Senior Gian Baldonado

Dear freshman Jerice,

During freshman and sophomore year, you’ll think you have the best group of friends anybody could ask for, but by the time senior year rolls by, you guys will say nothing more to each other than a simple “hi.” And that’s okay. Things change.

You’ll think basketball is your only salvation. You’ll think Jordans are what it takes to be accepted. You’ll think you have your whole life planned out. Little do you know that life has another agenda.

You won’t be valedictorian. Your dad can’t be proud to say he’s a UCLA father. You’ll quit basketball, the sport you grew up playing. Seems like a terrible future right? Don’t worry, it gets even worse.

You end up being stuck with salutatorian (yeah, second place again). You end up going to the school you vowed to never attend in UC Davis. You don’t even end up with a six-pack, just two measly abs, only visible in ideal lighting.

But, you’re happy. Not only did you learn to love UC Davis, but you get to room with your best friend since third grade. You’ve also made close friends that you would do anything for. You even decided to become a physician, with your backup being an engineer.

Although many of your goals went unaccomplished, you know you did your best to achieve them. While the sting of failure haunts you every now and then, it has made you appreciative of your successes and reflective of your past. Maybe it’s not the future you expected, but it’s the future you decided and earned. It’s your wonderful life.

Yours truly,
Jerice Kent Banola