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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Lessons to learn

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(7/2013) This month celebrates the anniversary of the first picture postcard. To commemorate this addition to the writing industry, Four Years at the Mount writers were asked to write a postcard to a younger version of themselves. Unfortunately, the post office couldn't send the letters back in time, so we've placed them here for your enjoyment.

Dear Self,

At five years old I know things might not make sense. Everything seems so confusing. Especially baffling is how to arrange letters to make words. Itís challenging, I know, but you will soon learn how they can be organized and how each letter has a specific sound. If ever anything is unclear, make sure you speak up. I hope that you can keep wonder always on your mind. Try striving to learn and to discover. Iím not sure if you know yet, but our world is beautiful and has many great things in store for you.

Remember how everything looks from this height because soon you will grow bigger and see the world differently. Always make sure you run and jump and play all you can. Never outgrow the dollhouse in the living room, the one with multiple bedrooms, a kitchen and working lights, but always remember to share it. It is the envy of many of your friends. Let me tell you a quick secret before itís too late: Barbieís hair isnít like your hair. It wonít grow back. This seems completely illogical, I know, but sadly it is the truth.

As you transition through grades in elementary school, I hope you hold tightly onto all that you learn. Some of the most important things you will ever know are the things you have been taught at the very age you are now: share everything, only run in the halls if no one is watching, laugh until your belly hurts, always say youíre sorry when you hurt someoneís feelings, and, of course, ice cream is good for you! You are capable of doing anything. Maybe the most pressing issue for you right now is the strangest of them all: all the beautiful colors of the rainbow donít turn into a super beautiful color when mixed together. Who would have guessed?

If I know myself, and I do, I know that you love to talk. Your teachers frequently call you a social butterfly. Though that sounds like a very nice compliment, they are often politely asking you to talk less. Take this as a warning before they have to give you one. Try to hold in all the extremely important things you must tell your best friends until lunchtime. Talking too much while other people are talking quickly leads to losing recess, and in fifth grade they donít just take away a few minutes. They take away the whole thing!

I bet you cannot wait to finish reading Where the Red Fern Grows. Even in the future it is still your favorite book. I know itís hard to wait to see what happens in the last few pages, but remember that not all stories have endings that make you happy. It is best to let the sadness roll down your face at home. It is here that mom can tell you that Old Dan and Little Ann had very long and happy lives with Billy Coleman. While she is at it, ask mom to explain the significance of the red fern one more time. It will be that explanation that will make the fern your favorite plant.

Each day your brain is being filled with more and more things that you are learning. Donít worry! There will always be room for new information. Letís just try to keep those super important and meaningful memories in a special box that we will always protect. This will give us the chance to look back on them when we grow old. The box will get bigger and bigger with all our new experiences, just like you are getting bigger and bigger every day. As you grow, remember that the world is waiting for you. Go discover!

At eleven years old, entering middle school can seem pretty scary. I know you are concerned about riding the bus. Donít be afraid. Youíll rarely miss the bus if you are able to run to the bus stop a couple of times. The ride on the bus wonít be too long. Sit next to a friend and everything will be okay. When you arrive at school and walk up to those four blue doors, know that behind them lie friendly classmates, great teachers, new schedules, and exciting information. Hold on tight and you will be just fine.

I know your love for school went downhill when geometry was introduced, but try not to get frustrated. You are not the only person who has difficulty finding the area of a rhombus or determining congruent sides on a triangle. Remember to get your calculator before class, and donít forget to thank your older sister for downloading games onto it. Though your high score is incredible, it does not show up on your report card. Make good decisions on what is more important. Obviously, you just need a little Tetris here and there sometimes.

When you get a certificate for making Honor Roll (even with your Tetris playing) and you are allowed to go to the cafeteria for donuts and muffins, pick a donut instead of that muffin you want. I know muffins are your favorite, and they just look so good, but trust me, it is not worth it. Food poisoning will quickly ruin your love for blueberry muffins, and you wonít be able to look at them the same way again.

At fifteen years old, entering high school is like walking into a maze. There are so many people going in all different directions, talking quickly, and pushing past you. You are just a freshman in a sea of over 2,000 fish. I know you are wondering where you fit into the mess of everything. It will take some time, but you will figure it out.

Please, donít take on more than you can handle. I know you think that the more things on your plate the better, but it is not worth it. Youíll be stressed way too often, and you wonít be able to just have fun. I wish that you would make time to relax instead of constantly being on the go.

I ask that you cherish each moment you spend on the volleyball court or on the lacrosse field with your team members. These will be some of your favorite memories. You will miss them more than you expect. I must warn you, when you are waiting to receive your varsity letter, donít expect something in an envelope with a stamp on it. Although this mistake will bring laughs for a long time to come!

On the most important day of your high school career, take a mental movie of all that is around you. Remember how you can single out your familyís voices from the rest of the crowd as they cheer for you. While you are so busy trying not to trip in front of everyone, make sure you lift your arm high enough that the sleeve of your gown doesnít get stuck when you are holding onto the railing!

At eighteen years old, your journey continues at the Mount. I know you are nervous because you donít know anyone, but you will be positively surprised at all the friends you will make. It is hard being away from home and away from everything that is familiar to you. Just know that it will be okay, and in time it wonít be as difficult.

Your first year takes some time to settle into, but you will quickly be making memories to lock away in that special box you created so many years ago. Along with the memories you have already saved away, make sure you place inside that box the Mount memories that already mean so much to you. Soon enough, your first year will be over and you will be a sophomore.

I wish that you would study a little more and try to go to the gym more often, but I know you are only beginning to figure everything out. You can only do the best that you can do. Just never forget what I mentioned when you were young: the world is waiting for you. Go discover!

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen