Four years ago, I didn’t get into my dream school.
When USC sent me a devastatingly small envelope, I didn’t know what to do. I had only applied to one other school on the West Coast, and I still had my heart set on California. So, after much deliberation (and a very short trip to Dallas to tour SMU), I committed to LMU, a school I really didn’t know much about. I liked the school’s mission and Jesuit background and obviously, I loved the location, so I took a leap of faith and moved across the country. Looking back, this was my first big adventure.
A lot happened in the following years. I got into my dream school, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. I left Loyola for UNC sophomore year, and Chapel Hill gave me the college experience I realized during my time on the bluff that I was looking for. There have certainly been days when I’ve wondered “what if,” and many more when I’ve missed the friends I made in L.A.
Lucky for me, Futureme.org exists, and I knew myself well enough to anticipate my nostalgia and terrible memory (bad combo), so, I wrote everything down.
Below is a slightly edited version of a letter I wrote to myself three years ago (forgive all the pronoun switches — writing a letter to yourself is weird).
Congratulations!!! By the time you read this, you will most likely have just graduated from college (or are about to, or will in the near future)!! Hopefully it’s both a sad and happy time, sad because you’re leaving a school you LOVE (USC? UNC? Columbia? Still don’t know!) and have made the best memories at in your time there, but happy and excited for whatever amazing step comes next!
In the midst of all this craziness I want you to take a few minutes and remember where this journey all started — your year at LMU. Loyola may not have been part of the original plan, but after finishing my year there I know I wouldn’t trade it for the world or change a single second of it, except maybe to take in more of it while I had the chance. This letter is my way of putting down in writing all the truly incredible memories made at LMU and the people and events that I encountered there that made my life so much richer. I hope three years from now you still look back fondly on these memories and hold them tight, and hopefully if you’ve lost touch with them this letter will inspire you to see what the BGC and Lizzy and Casey and Amy are up to!
Remember all the long talks with Casey about life and families and dreams and goals and thinking moving to LA would be just like LC’s experience on The Hills, and maybe being a little too disappointed to find out it wasn’t. Remember how many of those talks occurred in study rooms in Hannon during finals week, alongside many many cups of coffee from Jazzman’s. Remember how you broke your phone walking down the stairs and cried a little from all the stress and the shattered screen (whoops). Remember the basketball game with Cas and Sami when Casey told you all about her family and you felt so happy to meet someone that genuinely cared about your past and the things that made you into who you are.
Remember going to Disneyland with Alix and Lizzy and feeling so completely happy that you never wanted the day to end. Remember all the nights you and Alix drove around, eating ridiculous amounts of In ‘ N Out and donuts and going to parties for approximately 45 minutes before peacing out to fall asleep watching movies. Remember the beach in April and once again taking in the beautiful moment of watching the ocean with a new best friend. Remember going to Sprinkles that first night the BGC hung out and Alix’s car breaking down outside the Azuli Inn and taking a cab to get cupcakes and bonding over a 20 minute cupcake run that ended up taking 3 hours.
Remember all the late nights studying with Anna and how she made you laugh by dancing and being silly and crying about missing Mercy. Remember EVERYONE being in 309 all of second semester, taking naps on the floor and in both beds, doing homework and watching ridiculous shows mid-day because who cares about homework. Remember how fun SpringFest was and how great Capitol Cities was live! Remember going to the LACMA and seeing the lights for the first time with Casey and Sami during their last weekend in LA. Remember going to WOW that first night of second semester with Anna and being so nervous but then realizing how cool and easy to talk to she was. Remember walking along the bluff all those times, and that night during finals week standing out there with Casey taking it all in.
Remember how quiet and comforting Hannon was and reading (napping) on the couches by the fireplace. Remember how brave you were during the last night of second semester finals week, and how worth it it was when you got what you wanted just by asking. Remember CLC group meetings and the feeling of happiness and security after every single one. Remember going to Mexico for De Colores and all the amazing little kids in El Florido and the men at the immigration house and the doctors in the community medical center. Remember Anthony singing Thriftshop and buying churros on the way back across the border. Remember learning about post-grad service from Chris and thinking how cool that would be to do (still an option!!).
Remember all the nights in the Loyolan office, and the cool events you covered (plays, the art exhibit, the Balinese dance show). Remember FYR and how close to God you felt after. Remember sitting in the chapel just before you left campus and trying to find clarity that you were making the right decision (I hope by now you’re 100% sure you did — even if a tiny part of you still misses LMU). Remember your birthday at Izakaya and the yummy Hansen’s cake and going back to Alexa’s after. Remember Anna being obsessed with the Hunger Games at the end of the semester and bringing it everywhere with her. Remember running through UHall the day you almost missed math lab because you lost track of time and went to In ‘N Out with everyone.
Remember the Gonzaga game when you actually felt school spirit at LMU. Remember the day you and Alix watched a girls’ softball game and you enjoyed it, and watched the Beta Boat Races. Remember all the classes you took and effort you put in. Remember when Alanna came to visit and you went all over LA and saw Chelsea, went to the pier, went to Venice, 3rd Street Promenade, Millions of Milkshakes and more. Remember Roski’s dates with Jazzy and Anna.
Most importantly, as Jazzy said, remember that for a period of time, LMU really was your home, and you made great friends and great memories there. Even though you’re not graduating from there and you probably never went Sharkey’s or that place with the turtle races or touched the touchstone for the second time during graduation, you still got to experience LMU for a year and that year was exactly the right time for you to be there. It may not have been perfect, but it was an incredible experience and taught you more lessons than anywhere else would have, and for that, it was everything you needed. I hope these memories make you smile and remember where this whole journey started, and I can’t wait to know about all the memories to come. Good luck going out into the real world!!!!!!!!!
Looking back on these memories did make me smile, and feel a little sad about the potential “what if.” So much has changed, and in many ways it feels like a lifetime since I was at LMU. I’m still cracking phone screens and trying to like sports, though, and I’m happy to say I’m still in touch with all the badass girls frequently mentioned in this letter.
The most difficult part of staying on the move is the goodbyes, and getting used to leaving parts of my heart in different places. But the best part is getting to know so many wonderful individuals who bring love and happiness into my life every day, even when we’re not physically near eachother. LMU will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am forever thankful it was part of my journey.