A letter to her, my third form self:


Newly enrolled students in 2017 are displayed on the first floor of the Academic Building. Photo by Claire Hartemink ’21.

It’s hard to picture her. It feels like years since she walked the halls as a shy day student from close by. When I see pictures of her, I struggle to recognize that girl. I remember some things about her though –– certain details, some of them trivial, like how she did her hair in the morning and her gray Converse that she put on when the school day ended. I remember other things, probably more important, like her desire to belong at a school that was much bigger than the one she came from. And I remember that she didn’t feel like she belonged for quite a while – until the winter of her sophomore year when she went back to the activity that gave her the most sense of purpose.

I sometimes fear that part of her would have hoped that this version of me, a now 6th form boarder, slightly more extroverted, but still from close by, would have been more accomplished; that she, I, would have perhaps come away from Hill with grander takeaways. The truth is, though, or I should say mine is, that even as the hills on campus got smaller and the faces of the people more familiar, I often felt just as lost as she had been.

In the back of my mind is a thought that she wouldn’t be proud of who I became, that I should have done more and hesitated less while being at school. I should have gotten involved in certain initiatives sooner – throughout my time here, I didn’t have enough leadership positions or A markings. I made varsity track but stopped running. I didn’t do all the shows that I could have. I was only a prefect for one year when I could have been one for two. I never ran for SGA, and I didn’t give a chapel talk.

The first thing anyone will tell you when you arrive at Hill is to make the most of the time you have, and sometimes I think that I didn’t do that.

I can be loud and outgoing in certain social settings, but in others quiet and reserved. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s the perfect Hill student that we’ve all played a part in furthering the narrative of existing –– and if there’s one thing my Hill experience hasn’t been, it’s perfect either.

The questions I’ve been wrestling with in my final weeks are: Can anyone be the perfect Hill student? Has anyone had the perfect Hill experience? Has anyone actually ever made the most of their time here, or is that just some parting but ultimately unattainable wisdom we give out to each other?

I think the reality of Hill, at least from experience, is that you can’t really make the most of every day here. It’s a great intention to have, but you and I have had and will inevitably have days where we don’t want to make the most of it. There will likely be moments on this campus where you feel isolated, even when in the dorms or at seated meals (I know we haven’t had many of those), where you’re surrounded by a ton of people. Alternatively, you will likely have moments here that will make the bad ones feel like a small chip away at an experience that is otherwise whole and good, surrounded by the people who you have come to love and who have come to love you.

And I think that reality is a lot more meaningful than the one my 3rd form self would have wanted for 6th form me and for 6th form you.

As it is now time for me to share my parting wisdom with you, I will not tell you to make the most of the time you have left here, whether that be three years or three weeks. Instead, I urge you to embrace everything that comes your way, with open-ish arms, to fight for the Hill that you love on your best days, and to remember that version of it on your worst. If you take me up on it, I promise you will come as close to making the most of your time here as you can.

With gratitude and the best of luck,

Izzy Feldman