I’ve sent two of my three kids off to college in the last four years, so I kind of think of myself as a pro at this.Two successful transitions. Two first year survivals. A few tears, but nothing out of control. Mostly, the new chapters were met with smiles and positive attitudes. Our son heads back to his sophomore year this week. Our oldest daughter graduated from college last Spring and started the next phase of her life.
When both kids were getting ready to head off to college, I felt this need to impart some kind of wisdom to them. I really knew in my heart that my husband and I had done the work to prepare them for that step. They knew our expectations and standards. They understood our beliefs. They were smart enough to follow a recipe and knew when to clean the shower. They could use Google if something really stumped them. It wasn’t those day to day things that worried me. It was life, just life. It could be amazing and scary, often at the same time.
I wanted them to have something that they could drag out in the dark of the night to read through their tears and hear my voice. Although I hoped every day of their college experiences would be full of fascinating professors and issue-free roommates, I knew that there would be days that were just plain tough. Those were the days that I would normally want to serve up a dish of wisdom with a side of Ben and Jerry’s. Those were the days that I wished I could be with them. Since that couldn’t happen, we did the next best thing.
We filled a laminated poster for our son with movie quotes that made statements he needed to remember. Kind of fitting for a guy who sees just about every movie on opening weekend at the theater. Everyone in the family chose a quote and wrote a personal note to him. We printed it on a bright orange paper that reflected his light, witty, warm personality. We wanted him to remember who he was and that God has amazing things in store for him to share with the world.
For our daughter, my husband and I crafted a checklist of things to remember as she navigated this world. Our bits of wisdom illuminated things that we felt were crucial to living a life full of love, hope and faith. We printed it on beautiful pink paper with white curlicues that was sweet, yet elegant, just like her. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw that poster hanging on the closet door in her dorm. She found the perfect way to keep those ideas front and center in her daily routine.
Maybe some of the thoughts we shared with our daughter will resonate with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent facing the college send-off, a student leaving home for college or a person looking for answers and living life. Take whatever works for your situation and remember it during those times you need some words of wisdom and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
- Always trust your gut. It’s usually right, but we often convince ourselves otherwise.
- Stay up to watch the sunrise sometimes.
- Treat everyone you meet with respect. You never know when they may need you or you may need them.
- Your siblings have seen you at your worst and your best. They know how to push your buttons and make you smile. Don’t forget that they will always be your touchstones.
- Don’t be afraid to face your fears.
- Figure out the most logical ways to accomplish a task. It saves a lot of time.
- Cultivate true friendships. You will have them forever.
- It’s okay to cry or even be angry when you have disappointments as long as you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and show the world who you really are. No one else will do it for you.
- Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
- When you see someone in need, give them whatever you have to give.
- Laugh often.
- Be kind to yourself-eat well, get enough sleep, exercise. You have only one body and you want it to work for a long time.
- Have the courage to dream big!
- Be honest with yourself -knowing that your destiny is a blend of aspiration and faith.
- Sing like you sing in the shower!
- Sometimes- eat dessert first and call it dinner.
- There are no stupid questions! Ask anyone anything!
- Remember that your family will be there for you when you fall down and when you fly high.
- Enjoy all of the little things in life. They’re all around you.
- Use what you have learned about strength, courage, faith and hope to guide you on the rest of your journey in life.
- Be a role model for someone.
- Defy your gravity! (credit to Broadway!)
- As the song says- measure your life in love!