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What I wish I knew – Madison Wrightstone ’23

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

I wish I knew what I needed to say.

I wish I knew how to start a paper about myself.

I wish I knew how to write without being cheesy.

I wish I knew what kind of person I would become.

I wish I knew how my identity would shift into something entirely new.

I wish I knew that I would become a better friend, daughter, sister. 

I wish I knew that I would meet some of the people that would change me the most.

I wish I knew that it was okay to mess up and not be 100% certain in everything.

I wish I knew myself in high school to tell her everything will be okay.

I wish I knew that Juniata would make me who I wanted to be all along.

There are so many things that I wish I knew when I began my college search. Being the first kid in my family to go to college on top of being an intense over-thinker made these years filled with lots of crying, spreadsheets, and trying to rationalize a million different factors I didn’t even know how to begin to comprehend everything. You always dream about going to college, but you never realize that those same dreams lead to some of the most intense headaches. Getting sucked into the tornado that is choosing the “perfect college for you” is a force that leaves your head spinning and you craving the solace of solid ground and certainty once again.

The idea of college is, quite literally, terrifying – especially to a girl like me senior year who dreamed of going, but had no idea where. You know no one, and you know next to nothing. You take one of the biggest leaps of faith you are ever expected to take and just hope it pays off. In all honesty, I never pictured myself as the kind of person who could be happy going to school in rural Pennsylvania. Who would have known all along that the place I was meant to end up was a small liberal arts college that I did not even know existed until January of my senior year?

You never realize how true all the clichés you’re told about college are until you’re tasked to write about them. You will laugh until your stomach hurts and you will cry until you can’t anymore. You will have countless late nights and countless early mornings. You will find some of the people who bring out the happiness in you and you will find the thing that lights your soul on fire. You will have a life that is uniquely your own. You always see the montages of what college is like in the movies, and in some ways they get it completely right. It all washes by in a rosy haze and only when you look back at where you came from do you realize how much everything has changed in such a short amount of time.

The biggest thing that I wish I knew the answer to my senior year of high school as I was deciding what place I would call my new home in a few very short months, was that no matter what, I was going to be okay. It is completely terrifying thinking that you will make a mistake and choose the “wrong” college, and it can be especially hard when you’re constantly comparing your own journey to that of your friends in high school. You know yourself better than anyone else so ask yourself, what is it that you need? For starters, probably to take a deep breath.