You remind me a lot of myself when I was a freshman. Ambitious, intelligent, eager to explore, but apprehensive to leave the familiar behind. The first few weeks of college will be consumed with activities and social events in an attempt to make new students feel at home. But this isn’t home. This isn’t where your dad baked homemade bread and cakes, flour-stained fingertips wrapped around the leash your dog somehow managed to escape from every peach-fuzzed sunset. We knew she would come home, but we still chased after her in our bare feet through the prairie, where I tried to pull a tick off your arm and we built stick forts.
I remember your mom would ask us to help clean out the basement every summer because our imaginations cluttered every attempt of a spring cleaning. We dug clay out of holes, baked cupcakes with half a cup of salt and tried to sell them to the same neighbors that called your dad when we went ice skating on the pond in September.
We had our fights. Our band broke up at least three times and I stuck a note in your mailbox. You had a pool and I had a snow cone maker. We ran a lemonade stand. The four square chalked-up driveways eventually got repaved and you learned how to drive. I was terrified to leave you. I have done it three times now and I still hug you tighter than I should.
We used to write songs about the world changing, but it was us who were growing. This is for every concert we put on and each small business we ran out of your garage. This is for the “overs” we had, because we both had trouble with the whole “sleeping” part of a sleepover. This is for spending one last night together at the park, swinging back and forth the very idea of reality and our place in this big, scary world. We came to the conclusion that we are small but we can do great things.
I don’t see you a lot anymore. We’re both busy and it’s important to focus on yourself, but I’m selfish enough to wish you would call and give me a glimpse into your new life. But, for now, I am hopeful. You are one of the strongest people I know. Every worry you may encounter I had myself and I was just as dramatic until I realized how rewarding it is to become self-reliant. You’re not only smart, you’re exciting, and you have a contagious laugh I hope you use a lot this year. I have been preoccupied myself but I want you to know that I am here for you always. To keep it simple, here is the most valuable advice I can give you:
- When you find that group of friends you never get bored of seeing or immerse yourself into that activity that challenges you while simultaneously satisfying your very being, hold on tight and don’t let go.
- Everything worth learning will come from inside of you, not a textbook. Study hard, but go to that party or concert on the quad.
- Say “yes” more, but don’t be afraid to say “no.”
- Check up on your friends and yourself. Take advantage of student health services.
- Call your mom, she loves you and is getting older too.
Forming new memories won’t erase the old, it will only make them more visible when you look back and realize that you’re pretty damn happy.
No matter how many experiences we have apart, you will always have the title of my first best friend. That is one thing that will never change.