Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So, you're leaving for college tomorrow...

I was 13 years old the day I found my mom sleeping in her favorite recliner with her face covered up with a blanket.  I thought it was weird that she was able to sleep like that because I'm so claustrophobic and the idea of smothering under a blanket makes me break out in hives even as I type.  The sight of this made me walk right over and rip the blanket off her face.  Her nose was red and she had big tear streaks all down her neck. My mom is a pretty strong woman and this wasn't a normal sight so I knew something was wrong. I'd learned that her "Oh, I'm ok, honey" response was a lie and I'd heard it before.  I made myself comfortable in the other matching burgundy recliner (Burgundy and Hunter Green were the hippest colors that year and our house was full of it) and I made her talk to me.  

She waited awhile and then she told me that I was going to be an Aunt. She explained to me that it was my teen brother who was going to be a new daddy.  I didn't exactly understand why this wasn't excellent news and all I knew was that I was going to get to babysit and that made me happy.  I learned later that day that my dad, who was a pastor, was going to marry my brother and his girlfriend on the spot (best idea ever?) and that they'd be my new roommates for the next nine months or so. I watched my new sister in law go in an out of the hospital for her entire pregnancy with extreme sickness, many times thinking my sweet baby niece wouldn't survive until her birthday (knowing that strong person that she is now, I'm not surprised at all) and then on May 13, 1995, I met the sweetest little blonde I'd ever known.  

You still give me this same look all the time

Over the last 18 years, I've watched this baby girl grow into a beautiful, smart, strong young woman who has not had the most perfect life, but has been so surrounded by so much love from her amazing father, grandparents, aunts (yeah, me), uncles and cousins you would never know the things she suffered during her childhood.  I can't believe the little girl that was my tag-a-long for so many years is leaving for the University of Kentucky tomorrow morning.  I'm not worried about her because I know who her father is - he's the man who figured out how to provide for a family at the age of 17, how to raise two great kids that have his same spirit and they can work their way through anything.  Having said that - I'd like to offer some "what not to do's" for my sweet Candell.  This isn't necessarily a list of things I learned the hard way, but personal experience and observations of other people in my life who went to college.  Enjoy and good luck, my love. 

1. Don't go for the cheap carbs.  Colleges feed you garbage because its cheap and it is cooked by Satan himself.  Skip the pasta, breadsticks and Oreo extravaganza they offer 4 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The "Freshman 15" is a myth made for skinny people.  For a Smith, it will inevitably be the "Freshman 55" and that junk doesn't come off easy.  If there is a salad bar, only eat the lettuce and carrots and skip the dressing - it's actually just pure fat that wants to make a nice home on your behind.  Trust me on this one. I've never lied to you before. 

2. If you're going to be best friends with all dudes, I totally get that.  Girls can be lame and I understand, but please decide who your friends are and the ones you actually just want to kiss - separate those into two different groups and don't let those lines get blurry.  Its real awkward when your friends get real girlfriends (or boyfriends).  So I've heard... from friends of mine. 

3. Save your financial reliance on your dad for when you need it.  Don't take advantage of it freshman year.  I once put my ATM card into the machine and asked for the same $20 about 10 times before it declined me.  I think there are tougher regulations on that kinda thing now, but I overdrew my account by $250 more than 10 times my first few months at school.  My parents were too good to me - your dad will let you starve if you do that. 

4. Go to class.  Academic Probation is no place you want to live.  They won't let you sing and I know that's important to you. If you lose the respect of your teachers out of the gate, it will take you until graduation to get it back, if they don't send you home first. You are there to learn.  You can party when you're 25. 

5. The people you're friends with first semester are not the people you'll be friends with last semester and for the rest of your life.  Don't be discouraged :)

6.  If your roommate sucks, get a new one.  You have to share a shower with them.  If they are dirty or weird or have weird friends, run for the freaking hills. 

7. Be kind to the people who have authority over you.  Teachers, cafeteria workers, security patrolmen, dorm supervisors, parking lot attendants, etc.  You might need a favor one day and keep that with you as a general life practice.  Always be kind - to everyone. Be known as the girl who is always kind and you will never regret it. 

8. Guard your good reputation.  Don't be that girl who becomes known for anything negative. I don't feel like I need to further explain that. 

9. Study and get good grades.  I've said this in other ways, but, on those nights when you'd rather go out and be with "the coolest new friends ever because its Tuesday", remember why you're there and save it for Friday. There will always be a reason to go out if you make up reasons in your head. You'll still have that 8am exam and if you fail, refer to #4 and don't make me come down there and freak out on you in front of the cool kids.  

10.  Don't ever let anyone borrow your car.  For any reason.  Ever.  Especially dudes. 

11. Have fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do (and I mean me as in the present day me, not the 18 year old me who made large mistakes).

12. If you do make large mistakes, it will be alright.  Remember where you came from. Remember what you've been taught your entire life -  that we are a family who loves well and who takes care of one another.  There is never a reason why you won't be rescued or accepted and welcomed home with giant hugs if you make a big fat mess. 

I love you very much and you have brought so much joy to my life and continue to every day that I see what a great grown-up you've become. Be confident in who you are and know that people are going to love the real you.  Don't try to be anyone else. If you get in a pinch, call me (and by pinch, I mean a low-grade money pinch or an advice pinch.  I'm not picking you up at 3am, ever). 

Thanks for making me feel old.  Thank you for being a great aunt to my baby these last few months.  I'd like to think you've learned from the best :)  I am your biggest fan and am rooting for you - always. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Hannah! I hope your daughter is enjoying college! I was hoping you would answer a question about your blog! My name is Heather and my email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)