A Letter To My Younger Self Jade chihara '17

Dear 18-Year-Old Jade,

You have been raised to fight and persevere. You are prepared.

As you wander through Smith by yourself, the first thing you need to hear is this: every obstacle is an opportunity to learn something new. You can handle all the information being delivered and the completely new style of game than what you’ve been used to. You’re on a new court with new rules to follow. Registration, convocation, scouting reports, individuals, film...what?

When you get thrown right into the mix, do the best at what you know: relentless hustle and never letting your teammates down. Practices are going to drain your body and mind, so you can expect to make mistakes. Big ones and little ones. It’s going to take you a while to learn to get over the act of making the mistake. Instead, focus on the correction you need to make and visualize yourself doing the right thing. Keep in mind that nobody’s perfect.

Don’t be afraid of the scout, this is a tool to navigate the game and make life easier in crucial moments when you’re going one-on-one against the NEWMAC’s best guards. You’ve done it before and you’ll do it for as long as you’re on the floor. You’ve stopped players who went Division I, overseas, and a 19th pick in the WNBA draft. So hold your own and never back down from any match up. Fearless.

Don’t fall asleep on me. It won’t stop there. You’ll face new mental and physical challenges, far different than what you’ve experienced. Here is your first devastating injury: an ACL tear. What’s next? Can you make it back? Damn right you will. Know why? You will have a solid group of people supporting you and cheering you on. And you will never, ever tell yourself that it’s over. You have to celebrate the little things for yourself and focus on the journey ahead. Appreciate when you get full range of motion, your first jog, and notice the feeling of listening to your body more and more. Know when not to prolong your injury, and treat yourself with care. Feed your mind with positive thoughts, like picturing the day you won’t have to limp down the stairs, the feeling of making a solid cut to the basket, or the feeling of skying for a monster rebound.

You’re going to have some of your favorite people leave the program: seniors, juniors that become seniors, coaches, etc. Cherish the time and crazy moments you have with them. They love you for YOU, and you owe it to them to let them know how much they mean to you. They’re the reason you knew Smith was the place for you the moment you met everyone on your recruit visit. And yes, you’ll bicker and banter some, but what team doesn’t? Be vulnerable and show love during tough moments of conflict. You won’t go anywhere holding a grudge, so hold yourself accountable for when you are wrong, accept criticism and learn when you need to swallow your pride.

Come junior year, it’s time to get real. Explore your outside interests! How are you going to change the world? The same desire and fight you use to get 50/50 balls needs to be used to fight for water rights back home. The same work ethic and discipline to study your opponent needs to be used to dissect readings and craft great papers. Don’t be shame to bring out those booklets that help structure your essays, and keep a thesaurus website bookmarked in your browser. Class discussions are something to look forward to. There will be some powerful minds sitting next to you in class, get the most of every day by sharing knowledge and asking questions. Do your homework, be on time, and thank your professors. Put in the work and invest in your BRIGHT future.

So although some things will hurt you and set you back, it’s an opportunity to find your fight, your inner-love, and reveal that you matter as a person. I write this to you as a senior hoping that you enjoy the memorable experiences that lie ahead. So do this for me: push yourself past the mental fatigue, past the frustration with the mistakes and negative self-talk, past the PT, and past all the struggle by taking good care of yourself. You will discover the strength and love for who you are and the beautiful life you are living. My dear friend, what a wonderful gift! When you’re ready (you will know, trust), spread that love to those around you because they will need it too. Help people love themselves in their own tough moments.

And don’t forget to call your family.

All my love, Jade

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