A Letter to my Eighteen-Year-Old Self

I’ve officially graduated from high school two years ago. Here are some thoughts that I’d like to share with my eighteen-year-old self.


Dear Eighteen-Year-Old Christina,

Congratulations, you’ve survived sitting there as the names of your 738 classmates were called and you finally walked across that stage and said goodbye to your high school life—trust me, this is a victory.

You’ve sent in a deposit to Ithaca College and you’re officially a part of the Class of 2017.


You don’t know it right now but the years to come are by far the happiest and most fulfilling so far.

During your first few weeks, you will be really homesick. That’s okay. You don’t know anyone yet and having to share a bathroom with fifteen other women kind of sucks. It’s an adjustment but things will turn around quickly. For the first time, you aren’t just going through the motions in school trying to get the highest grade, you actually enjoy your classes. You’re actually learning things and it’s wonderful.

For once, what you’re learning about matters. You’re talking about race and gender and economic status and the way these pieces of our identities fit together to inform the advantages and disadvantages we will have in life. Unfortunately, a college classroom will be the first time that you ever get the chance to learn what the word feminism actually means.

Ithaca College is relatively small so it no longer feels like you’re slipping through the cracks like it did at your ridiculously huge high school. The days of sitting on a carpet outside the cafeteria because there isn’t enough room for everyone are over. (Yes, my friends and I actually ate lunch on a rug senior year.)

Because of this, you’re able to really distinguish yourself from your peers—you’re able to focus on yourself instead of competing with and comparing yourself to others.

Freeing yourself from this pressure will allow you to excel in your classes, become a DJ, start a new student organization, and speak in front of state legislators all in your first semester. With everyone’s information and personal business available to you as soon as Facebook loads, it can be difficult to not feel like you need to be having as much fun and accomplishing just as much as those around you—but don’t worry about it.

You’ll be so much happier once you learn how to focus on what you love and how to do those things for yourself instead of a resume or because you feel like it will please someone else.

Here’s another secret, first-year college student ever knows what on earth they’re doing. So stop worrying so much about what you’re doing with your life. You don’t have to have everything mapped out. Instead, let yourself stumble into things that you didn’t know you loved. For example, that politics course you randomly selected because you didn’t know what else to take will turn into your second major. The random writing seminar that you actually shouldn’t have been allowed to take will be the place where you meet your best friend. The random talk on Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights hosted on your campus will turn into something that you actively fight for and organize around.

Unfortunately, you will also stumble into bad things and bad people too. A few months into your first semester, you will meet one of the worst people you’ve yet to meet. My advice is to not blame yourself as much as you do for the things that happen between you. It is not your fault that someone else made the decision to treat you like total crap. Realize that he’s inflicted pain on many people and not just you.

This experience will raise the bar for all future relationships—whether it be romantic, friendship, family, or otherwise.

Suddenly you will have no patience for people who don’t text you back or friends who don’t put in enough effort or family members who make constantly criticize you or people who text throughout dates. Walk away quickly from people who make don’t treat you with the respect that you know you deserve.

A year later you will find yourself facilitating programs on healthy relationships and starting peer education based bystander intervention program.

This will be one of the best things you ever do.

You’re sophomore year is going to be a tough one—parts of it are going to straight up suck. Sorry. But work hard through it anyways because even though it may be incredibly challenging it will be so much more rewarding and transformative.

You’ll realize who your real friends are—and who aren’t. You’ll feel lonely sometimes—but that’s only because you’re removing toxic people from your life. Through everything you’ll become connected with wonderful people. Blogging will become an outlet that will give you the opportunity to live in Washington, DC for a summer. The things that bring you pain with inspire you to take action and that action will direct you towards what you want to do in the future.

Here’s to the next great two years of your life,


Phoenix, U2 Concert, Moving to DC, and Craziness

A few days ago, someone called me the blogging expert. I smiled at the compliment but felt a twinge of guilt in my stomach as thought about how long it had been since I cracked open WordPress and hit the little green publish button. I took a much needed mental health blogging hiatus after finals week to give myself calm down from all the stress. Then I traveled to Phoenix with my family.

Then I moved to DC. In the span of two days I got on a plane at 4am in Phoenix, AZ, went back home, packed up my car, and then drove six hours to DC at 6am the very next day. It all happened so fast. Next thing I know at the white house and saying goodbye to my parents. Then I’m starting my first day as a Civic Engagement intern with Young People For.

For the first time in my life, I live outside the bubble of a college campus or my tiny upstate NY town. I live on my own. I buy groceries and cook dinner and make lunches that I take to work with me where I work forty hours a week. I go to work and attend meetings and say things like “please return to me by close of business today.” It’s all very weird. And amazing. And kind of scary.

It’s been great. But it’s made it hard for me to quiet all the noise and emotions that fill my life. It’s drowned out that voice that’s says: “You want to blog today.” And I do. I really want to blog.

So here I am.

I’m currently sitting at nearby park. My laptop is on airplane mode. The Wi-Fi is turned off on my cell phone. I can just write. Zero distractions.

I’m only in DC for ten weeks so that means that I’ve been trying to make sure that I’m having the best time I possibly can. And I’m having a great time. I’ve been to monuments, museums, farmer’s markets, cool parks and restaurants, and I even went to weird, underground ‘90s concert. But I still feel guilty every time I load another episode of Netflix or opt to spend a Saturday night in sweatpants after working all week. I need to remember that breaks are okay.

Right now I’m writing, listening to a live track of the U2 concert I went to in May (which was amazing, by the way) and watching a duck drink water from a nearby fountain. I need to take this in. I just need to appreciate where I am right now.

A few weeks from now it will be two years since I graduated from high school. I can’t tell you how much has changed since then. I saw high school as a long and crappy waiting room before college and life would suddenly become awesome and free of hall monitors who had the power to tell you when you could and couldn’t go to bathroom. For the most part, college has been wonderful and transformative. My shy eighteen-year-old self would never joined a radio station and spoke on air. I graduated high school with the idea that I wanted to “write stuff.” I had no idea that I would eventually publically blog online. I’d never thought critically about gender equality or reproductive justice and I never thought I’d ever speak to Senator about Title IX on a live panel.

None of this was planned. But I’m so wonderfully amazed and grateful that it happened.

I have very personal reasons for getting involved in these movements. It may seem far-fetched but I feel like none of these things would have happened if weren’t for all I’ve experienced before. I feel like every challenge, every piece of bad news, and all the feelings of confusion were just building me up to become the tough, confident, determined twenty-year-old I am today.

I’m sorry this blog is so all over the place. These are just a few things I need to say. It can be so easy to get tied up in everything that’s happening in your life, but I think it’s really important to stop and think about how you got to be where you are and to take it all in.

All the best,


PS. Many more blog posts to come. That’s a promise!