To you who is nervous about starting college…

Dear You-

I want to congratulate you and wish you well as you begin your college journey.  I guarantee this will be one of the most interesting times of your life.  I hope you enjoy every drop of the good times.  Enjoy learning and discovering and exploring.  Enjoy making friends.  Enjoy the wonder of developing new interests and talents.

Starting college can bring a lot of anxiety.  My wish for you is to take something positive away even from undesirable experiences and turn that into your triumph.  You will be exposed to things you don’t like – that will help you understand your limits and learn what is right for you.  You might become friends with someone only to find they are not the kind of person you thought they were – that will broaden your understanding of humanity and I hope you feel empowered to remove yourself from people who don’t add value to your life.  You will endure some solitude – that can be an opportunity to discover the friendship-of-self that is a significant part of one’s character.  You may discover some people with certain expectations of you that don’t match your own – know that you you are strong enough to work outside of others’ expectations of you if you must in order to do what is right for you.

There will inevitably be some bad times and they can be incredibly difficult.  Understanding that bad times lead to your growth doesn’t always make them easier to get through.  But family and friends do.  If you’re feeling hurt or alone, I encourage you to reach right out to your support network.  Call them and email them and send them notes in the mail.  If they’re local, meet them for coffee or lunch or just hang out.  Share your experiences with them and in the process you will learn about yourself as you tell your story.  And you’ll learn about them through their responses.  Feed off the love you build with them as energy to help you be receptive to making new friends who can support you, too.

It is important to stay in touch with how you feel in reaction to all your experiences, especially the hard ones.  If negative emotions come up, remember that it is good when you can recognize them because that means you know what you need and you know what does and does not work for you.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by school, work, or people problems, take some “you” time, even if you can only manage 15 minutes of it.  Treat yourself to something you like and concentrate on enjoying it.  Write in a journal or make some art or have a cup of great coffee or tea or take a walk in nature.  It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you truly enjoy it.  Taking care of yourself like that is necessary and you deserve to be in tune with yourself and treat yourself right.

This is both a scary and exciting time.  New people, assignments, responsibilities, circumstances and environments all at once can feel overwhelming.  Please believe in your able-ness to meet and deal with it all.  Setting out on your own is a formative experience.  You will come to know yourself in amazing ways that you otherwise wouldn’t.  I’m proud of you for facing life head on and answering the call to adventure that awaits you.

Read more love letters from my "Love letters to humanity" series.
Photo courtesy of Álvaro Remesal Royo under a Creative Commons license.