According to my Great Life Plan I drew up during my naïve teenage years, my oldest child would have been about 15 this year. But, plans don’t always work out. I will never get a chance to dispense my indispensable advice to any inattentive teen. In my upmost humble opinion, I have some pretty good guidance that’s just sitting in a metaphoric attic gathering dust.
I try to bite my tongue and not offer unsolicited advice even though I have some pretty wise words to offer. True, the few times I have been asked for my opinion caught me off guard and the advice has been a bit off-kilter. Normally though, I am one sage cookie.
This week, I am going to give advice to my non-existent daughter. The words of wisdom I have earned during my 10-29 years. Tonight’s talk will be focused on leaving home for college.
I loved college. If I had my choice, I’d be a professional student. You will love the opportunities and freedom you will experience. This is a time for learning and self-discovery so take advantage of it. Let me offer you three suggestions I wish I would have known when I was your age.
First of all, be aware that the first month is going to kick your butt. I call this the GAP (Groove Adjustment Period). The classes will be overwhelming. You won’t have any friends. And you will probably be homesick because you will be remembering everything you left behind in a sort of reverent glow. It may not seem like it now, but this is all good stuff. This is a sink or swim test of your personality. Hopefully, you will learn to swim and become a strong, confident person.
My suggestion is to develop a positive routine during this time. Learn good study habits and social skills to keep you afloat. The habits you develop during this period of time will help you find your groove. No matter how overwhelming the first month may be, a change will occur within you. It will happen slowly, almost imperceptible like the blossoms on a tree during spring after winter. One day you will realize, “I got this.”
The second thing I want you to keep in mind while at college is to beware of the frogs. For every prince roaming about, there’s a gaggle of frogs. Unfortunately, the frogs look deceptively like the princes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart until the spell wears off at midnight. Run, run away from the frogs!
When I worked in Salt Lake, I had a coworker that had married young. Just like her mother wanted her to do. However, her husband was more interested in playing video games and working part-time than rearing a family. My coworker had to work fulltime even after they had their first child. Upon her insistence, they bought a house they couldn’t afford and couldn’t fix up. Still, her husband had no desire to step up to the plate and be a man.
Her solution to her dilemma and frustration was to have a second child. She eventually quit her job because she had two kids to take care of and a husband to get motivated. I often wonder what happened to this little family. This helped me realize – there are worse things than being single. You, my dear, are a princess. Remember that. You have every right not to settle for a frog. It’s okay, and I prefer you to, wait for a prince.
This leads to my third suggestion. Spend some time alone. Get to know yourself. Discover who you are and what makes you tick. Find out how you like your eggs, what kind of hobbies you like to do, and what you believe in.
But don’t spend too much time by yourself. Find a social circle with your same values and immerse yourself in it. Be the type of person to be happy with whatever company you’re in – even if it’s a party of one.
Keep in mind this list of suggestions while you are away. But remember, they are just suggestions. Enjoy this time of your life. Find out who you are and what you’re made of. Use this time to travel and see the world, volunteer, work hard, socialize, and learn something new every day. Trust me on this.