A Letter to First-Year Johann

letter-to-first-year-self-banner.pngWritten by: Johann Cardenas, 3rd Year Bioinformatics

Photo by: M. Bettencourt, Student Experience

Dear Johann,

You’re starting your first year at Western, and you must be so excited to start this new stage of your life. High school was a struggle, but I am so proud of how much you’ve grown to get to this point. I know the kind of person you are: curious and hungry to learn everything about the world and experience all that it has to offer. Whatever you do, continue to carry that energy with you. You’ll have so many amazing experiences and opportunities you’ve never thought possible. On top of that, you’ll make connections that will last you a lifetime. You’re shy, but don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Join that club, apply to that thing, talk to that girl next to you in your Physics tutorial. Things won’t always go as planned but remember to follow your heart. Of course, while you should put yourself out there, take care of yourself too. You’re worthy of health and self-care.

As much as you’re excited, I know that you’re also afraid: afraid of not making social connections, of the uncertainty of life that comes after graduation, of university academics, and of failing to meet the standards that you hold for yourself. I won’t lie: it won’t always be easy. You’ll worry sometimes. You’ll overthink. You’ll get your heart broken. You’ll get disappointed and anxious and stressed and find yourself in situations you’ve never thought you’ll be in. But the low points come with an opportunity to learn, and with highs that you could never imagine yourself in.

You may not believe me but trust me when I say that you’ll grow so much even after just two years here. Your days will go by quickly, where you’re busy with work or school or whatever else, and you’ll think of yourself as just a more tired version of the person you were in high school. It won’t hit you until you’re brushing your teeth in front of your bathroom mirror one night, staring yourself in the face. You’re more confident, well-rounded, and mature. You’ve learned so much and have made so many new memories and friends. I know you’re not the type, but remember to stand tall, and be proud.


Johann Cardenas

3rd Year Honours Specialization in Bioinformatics

P.S. Your first-semester Physics final is at 9:00 am, not 12:00 pm. Remember to set an alarm. You’ll thank me later.

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