This week marks the first week of what’s about to be the greatest most inspiring and eye-opening 4 years of your life. When you hugged me goodbye I had a thousand mixed feelings. I was stoked beyond belief that you were just beginning this grand adventure we all call “college.” I was excited for how many doors would open for you in the blink of an eye – doors that you didn’t even know existed – and I was curious which doors you would choose. I was proud that you listened to your own gut when it came to deciding where to begin this journey and when you were ready for it. Despite everything this family imagined your future being, you wrote your own story and that takes more courage than you may believe you have. But then there was a huge part of me that was going to miss seeing your curly hair any time I came home, and another part of me that didn’t want you to be this grown up.
That being said there’s a million things I never got to say to you when you hugged me goodbye.
- It’s okay to have moments of weakness. These moments are what make you human. I travelled Europe and saw dozens of different cultures yet I’ve never run into a place where disparity and weakness did not exist. It’s part of human nature and as long as you recognize it as such, it will never define you.
- Stay true to yourself. Never let anyone else try to define you. In my 3 years of college I’ve been called a lot of things. Whore. Slut. Bitch. Antisocial. Attention whore. But you’ve known yourself for as long as you lived so what right do others have in deciding who you really are? You know who you are. And as long as you believe in this, nobody’s words can touch you.
- It’s okay to ask for help. I spent way too many days struggling in the dark when our parents got divorced before I realized I needed assistance. I spent a lot of my time in school trying to prove to myself I was smart by not utilizing my TA’s and other resources. But here’s what other people see when you reach out for help: They see that you care about the work you produce and the progress that you make and this is always praised. By friends, colleagues, professors and employers. The one who asks for help is not defeated, they are empowering themselves. So I urge you to utilize every ounce of your resources.
- Put yourself out there. The hardest thing for me was arriving at a new place with no familiar faces and learning how to thrive there. It’s every freshman’s biggest fear. “Will I fit in? Is this campus where I belong?” The best way to answer these questions is to get out of your comfort zone and explore what happens when you do so. You’d be surprised to learn that the world becomes much more accepting when you break out of the cages you’ve built yourself. This goes into my next and probably most important point:
- Doubt your doubts. Because we are indeed human, it is natural to have thoughts like “I can’t do this,” or “I’m not the right type of person for that,” or “they won’t like me.” But I encourage you to recognize when a thought like this occurs and instead of allowing yourself to accept it, challenge it. See what happens when you start saying “I CAN do this.” The words “I can” have such a high vibration of energy and I want so badly for you to experience what it’s like to feel that vibration. Challenge your doubts – don’t believe for a second that you’re not good enough for something. I thought I wasn’t the type of person who could leave home. I thought for so long that I was so home based I couldn’t ever leave because I’d get too homesick. But now? Now I have a family and a home in Denmark and I’ve proved to myself that I CAN thrive in new places and I CAN make a home out of new settings with new people. And this has enabled me to see so many more open doors than ever before. And I know that I’m not you. You have your own story and so I hope with all my heart you take the words I’m saying and apply it to your story. The only limitations you have are the ones you create for yourself. So challenge them. They are an illusion.
- Don’t forget about your family. It wasn’t until I moved away from all you people that I realized how much you meant to me. Family becomes much more of an important factor when you don’t see them every day. Family becomes less of a given and more of a blessing. So don’t forget to call home every once in a while. Share your stories, your pictures, your explorations. We care. And no matter where were are in this world we are always your family. Embrace it! Someday you’ll see that we are the ones who understand you the most and when you feel like everything around you is falling apart we will always be your rock.
I know that was a long list of probably really cheesy things to say, but I wanted you to hear them because I think they’re important. I realize that my experience is going to be different than yours in a million ways. But you and I are related which means we share the same blood, the same genes, the same thought process (in a lot more ways than you would let yourself think) and therefore I hope you don’t glaze over these words and think they could never apply to you.
So have fun, explore your options, be open to anything and everything and stay true to yourself and by doing that you’ll end up exactly where you belong.
The task ahead is never greater than the strength within.
PS – thanks for always trying to ruin the pictures I take. Turns out I’ve come to admire them all anyways.