Open Letter to the Freshman entering College

If you’re anything like I was you’re stepping onto that campus for the first time and deciding right here, right now everything that is about to change. And it’s probably a similar list to the one you made when you were starting high school, or middle school, or maybe even Kindergarten when you decided that you were officially one of the big kids going to school for the first time. It’s different this time though, isn’t it? The possibilities are endless. You can do whatever you want and go wherever you want for the first time in your life. Take whatever classes you want to take, choose your own major, create a new image with people you’ve never met before in your life, live without your parents and siblings breathing down your back. These four years, as you’ve decided, are going to be the best of your life.
Truth is that they will be.
You’re going to spend the next four years stressing out over due dates, freaking out over financial aid and tragically expensive text books, desperately looking to find “your people” and you’ll find that its way more important than it was in high school because this campus is huge. You need to know who you’re going to eat with in the dining hall and study with during those all-nighters and cry with during finals week. Right now, you may be thirty minutes away from home or you may be ten hours away from home. You may be on the other side of the country or right down the street. Regardless it’s going to be a long four years. You’ll get scared, you’ll get homesick and stressed out and no one wants to do that, go through what’s supposed to be the best four years of your life, alone. You’ll be craving those home-cooked meals, and cursing your own procrastination and you’ll have people from every side injecting their advice on your future until you can’t even make a decision on what you want for dinner, let alone “what are you going to do after graduation?” and if you hear that question one more time, you’ll pull out your own hair. And every single person around you, regardless of how “put together” they seem will be going through the exact same things.
Truth is, it is going to be the best four years. It’s going to be the beginning for something even more amazing. You’re going to make life-long friends and the memories from these four years are going to be some of the best of your life. Four years from now you’ll be preparing to walk across the stage and thinking back on every single one of those memories, everything you did and everything you wish you did.
If I could go back in time to first day freshman year I would have sought out the campus ministry that I fell in love with my sophomore year. I would have been seeking after Jesus so much sooner and I would have spent more time hanging out with my roommates instead of isolating myself. I would have taken the opportunities to go on mission’s trips and hangouts with my friends and all those campus events I kept hearing about and seeing in my emails. I would have slept less. I would have explored more. I would have savored every moment no matter how agonizing and stressful it was because I know now that it’s not worth it to speed through the pain, numbing yourself to everything until you make it to the other side. You can’t selectively fast forward through everything that hurts you without missing out on all of the joys. The fact of the matter is that some of the worst days of your life will still have some of your happiest memories held within those twenty-four hours.
No matter what these next four years look like for you, walking across that stage will be bittersweet and it will be hard but at the end of the day I think it’s better to spend every single day creating memories that will break your heart when you have to say goodbye. When you leave that campus, it’s so much better and such a blessing to say that your experience was so sweet, so incredible and liberating that it hurts you to say goodbye and you have to take that time to grieve for the end of this chapter. I don’t have anything I can possibly tell you about how to make your college years meaningful. I can’t tell you what events to go to or when to move off campus. I wouldn’t trade my college years for anything but that experience was mine and mine alone.
God has a plan for my life that I would end up where I did, meet the people that I did and live the life that I am living right now. It’s a plan that was made for me and the person that he created me to be and I know that it’s not my place to measure it or compare it up against the plans for anyone else. For that reason, I can’t give you a blueprint to follow but I’m writing this letter to tell you one thing. Be present and be grateful no matter how many essays you have to write or how much reading you have to do. Chin up and allow yourself to enjoy every single thing that college has to offer you and no matter how bad a day might be you can always be on the lookout for that one good memory and be ready to savor it. And for crying out loud, as tempting as it may be, don’t spend your entire weekends sleeping and watching Netflix in your dorm room because I promise you’ll regret it.

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