It hardly seems possible that two years have passed since I wrote about you turning 16. It feels like an eye-blink, like I took a short nap and suddenly you’re graduating High School with a whole wondrous future ahead of you. I shouldn’t be surprised because you went from tow-headed toddler to perpetually adorable pre-teen in what felt like a month; and I’m pretty sure you found a Zoltar machine in your 12th year, because you went to bed a little girl and woke up a beautiful young woman. Everything about you seemed to happen fast, and you’ve made every moment a grand adventure!
This is the part where I look back at my near 46 years of life on this earth, and provide sage advice that you’ll ignore while rolling your eyes, shaking your head, and silently vowing you’ll never be this annoying to your children (A vow you’ll break, because you’ll discover it’s one of the true joys of parenthood.)
Life can be hard….it’s going to get a little harder!
High School is tough, I’m not too far removed that I can’t remember it’s not all smooching over birthday cake with Jake or fist pumping across the football field after Saturday detention. You have innumerable demands on your time, steadily mounting pressures to perform, and the ever-present specter of peer pressure looming over your shoulder. And I have to confess, college isn’t going to be any easier.
The biggest difference is no one will be pushing you but yourself, so hang your syllabus to your wall and prepare to get organized. The good news is you have two parents and an older sister who’ve been through it, and have a vested interest in seeing you do well. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, because college is also a little bit like Hogwarts, and help can be found to those who ask for it.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
With so many new responsibilities it’s going to seem like you’re juggling cats. The good news is most college classes tell you exactly what is expected of you on day one, so you can map out life 10 weeks at a time. So start making things to do lists, work ahead when you can, and circle those weeks when everything is coming due at once and plan accordingly. Use your time wisely.
Stick to it!
This one is tough, because you have a little more responsibility than your average starting freshman. And as your responsibilities begin to mount, the temptation will be to work more hours, to branch out on your own, to be independent, to think “I can come back and do this later.” I’ve always been proud of your desire to walk your own path, but can only echo the wise words of Admiral Akbar.
For independence is a bit of a trap, with its own set of responsibilities. So stick it out, no matter how tough it gets, and consider the next four to six years an investment in your future.
Don’t forget to have fun
Here’s one that I’m going to recycle from the advice I gave your sister two years ago, make some time for yourself. The next few years will afford you more opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and see different places than any other point in your life, so try to make it happen. Unfortunately, the long road trips are probably out, but almost everything else is on the table. So spread your wings, do the activity thing, try some day trips…the folks who love you will help you find a way to make it happen!
So that’s it…hopefully I kept the eye-rolling to a minimum. Just know, as you don the golden cap and gown and grab that diploma that we are very proud of you, of the beautiful, intelligent, creative young lady you have become, the challenges you have met, the things you’ve already accomplished. And we’re looking forward to watching you meet, and exceed, the challenges you will face in the future.
…love you, Rebecca!