A Letter to My Daughter, as She Leaves for College
Five days from now, we’ll be moving you into your college dorm. You’ll be a freshman, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet.
I know you’re nervous. You don’t think you are ready. You’re going to miss us, and oh boy, are we going to miss you. But here are all the reasons why I know you are going to be okay.
You Are Resilient
I have never seen you slink away from a challenge. You procrastinate it, yes (sorry, you get that from me) but in the end you always persevere. You are a problem solver, and whatever feels hard about being a college freshman, you’ll figure out a way to manage it. And there are a lot of things that will be hard: sharing a room with a stranger, sharing a bathroom with even more strangers, being away from the people you love. But each of these challenges has a workaround, and I know you’ll find it.
You Are Immensely Likeable
From day one on campus, you will see that everyone else feels exactly like you do: nervous, alone, scared, and desperate for friendship and connection. You have a smile that softens people’s hearts and a laugh that inspires joy. Ever since you were little, you filled the room with brightness and love. It’s just your way, and people will gravitate toward you because of it. Let others feed off your energy. Make connections. But do be careful not to give so much to others that you deplete yourself. That is the challenge of being someone as emotionally available as you are – people will soak up your energy, because it makes them feel good. But remember that the only person you need to make happy is yourself.
You are a Great Friend
I know you are worried about losing touch with your friends, but here’s the fact: People will always cycle in and out of your life, and while some relationships are forever, some are only for a time in your life. That’s okay. And every relationship takes work on both ends: If you are trying to stay connected and the other person isn’t, let that be what it is. Look to the new relationships you are forming. The challenges of college allow you to create strong bonds with a new group of people. Embrace your commonality, and in the process you’ll discover more about yourself and who you are becoming.
You Have a Solid Foundation
When things get hard, and they will, you are never alone. Even though you’re far away, I am always available. Call me, text me, at 3 pm or 3 am. If you are overwhelmed and need someone to vent to, I can be your sounding board. And if it’s something you can’t talk to me about, lean on others you can. Don’t ignore your feelings or push them down; find the best way to express them and let others help you manage them. Everyone who loves you (and that’s a lot of people) want to support you and help you succeed. Do not hesitate to lean on this incredible resource.
You Are Ready for This
You don’t think you are, but you are. Remember those three hours a day you spent commuting to and from school? The school projects that had you up until past midnight, all those Mandarin flashcards, the AP tests and the final exams. The SAT, which you hate-studied for and then mastered? Remember how you decided senior year to join the softball team, even though you hadn’t picked up a bat in years (and have a debatable level of sports talent to begin with – let’s be honest!). When you think you can’t do something, think back on all the things you have done. And remember how hard they were when you started.
I’ll Miss You
This isn’t so much a reason you’ll succeed as a reminder that just because you’ve left home, doesn’t mean home has left you. You will carry me, your dad, your brother with you everywhere you go. We’ll be the cheerleaders who encourage you, the tacticians who help you problem solve, and the jokesters who make you laugh when you need it. Because no matter where you go in life – and you will go far – we will always be part of what made you, you.
So move forward with courage. Strength. Resilience. Love. You are about to become exactly who you were meant to be.