Dear High School Ashton,
It's the 20 year old version of you here to give a little advice. I'm no life expert or perfect student or anything of the sort, but I've (obviously) lived more life than you have. You've grown more in the past two years than you did in all of high school. College has been really sweet to you, Pashton (also, I call you Pashton... Get it? Past-Ashton).
I won't kid you, you've had a lot of hard days; days you've wanted to transfer, drop out, or never live life outside of the comfort that is your bed. Your homework will get overwhelming, you'll feel lonely, and you'll cry enough to surprise yourself. College isn't the easy, fun thing you thought it would be, but Pashton, it is so good to you. There have been more days that you've walked around in awe of where you are than there have been days you've wanted to leave. Just this week you were walking back to Lat-Webb (you live with this girl named Elizabeth Langford. She's from Portland and she blesses you more than you could ever anticipate) and you were thinking that life is too sweet to be true. You really do love life here.
MC is a school where joy is contagious and the sun always seems to shine just right. In the short amount of time that you've spent here, you've learned a lot both in and out of the classroom. Know that it's okay that you've changed your major three times, despite your swearing that you wouldn't, and that you love the major you end up with. The lesson of living with grace for yourself is the most important lesson you've learned so far. The summer before you come to college, someone will tell you that you can't "should" on yourself all the time. You won't understand at first, but come fourth semester, you'll tell yourself that everyday. You have to have grace for yourself, friend.
This is college, Pashton. You no longer spend your days walking the halls of Gulf Shores High with the kids you learned to read with. Your grades aren't perfect, but numbers are not a reflection of your knowledge. You haven't quite mastered the art of test taking (sorry), but you're getting better. You're learning to love yourself and others well and honestly, the person I am as I'm writing this letter is a completely different girl than who I'm writing to. You've changed more than you can imagine. Your hair is still big (advice: stop washing it every day and learn what a "top-knot" is) but your smile is wider, your heart is wiser, and life is sweeter. Slowly but surely, you are learning to embrace grace and walk boldly in who our Creator made you to be. It's hard, but it is a beautiful struggle that is leading to freedom.
You've done a good job of surrounding yourself with some of the best people in the world. MC is not lacking in good people and you will continuously find yourself in awe of how wonderful your friends are. Enjoy every minute you have with your high school friends, but don't worry about making friends in college. The Father gives good gifts and your friends are a perfect example of that. The good news is that you stay in touch with your best friends from high school, and when you're home it isn't hard to pick up where y'all left off.
Pashton, enjoy what you have left of high school. Soak up every moment in Mrs. Reichley's class and stop acting like your school uniforms are the end of the world. Help me out by paying attention in class and maybe college will come a little easier for you. High school may not be ideal, but it's what you've got right now-- enjoy it. You're a good person, you've got great friends, and a great life ahead of you. I'm proud of who you are. I hope you are too.
Stay cool (actually you're not very cool), please start dressing better, and (again) stop washing your hair so much. College is going to come faster than you think, I promise.
-- Present Day Ashton