Dear Daughter, I trust you to:
1. Surround yourself with people who are passionate and interesting, who will lift you up, and share with you thoughts, places and experiences that excite and inspire you.
2. Challenge yourself, and take a leap of faith every single day, believing that unless it makes you nervous, uncomfortable and awkward, you will probably not grow. So give that speech, audition for that spot, sign up for that club position, and convince your professor that you would make a great TA, because you absolutely will, and you will 100% lose every shot not taken.
3. Eat many fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal every day, and be aware of when you indulge in too much sugar, dessert or candy. I know you know what I’m talking about!
4. Always sit toward the front of the class, near your professor. It is an indication of interest, and an investment in the relationship you can build with him/her. Go to office hours after!
5. Understand that being nice, kind, friendly, and genuinely interested in others and their lives is what will get you far in life. No CEO, President or leader has ever been successful if they are fundamentally, as a human being, not NICE.
6. Remember birthdays – of your friends and family members including ALL uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins. This may not be high on your list of priorities, but trust me, the love and support of these individuals is what you will come to rely on when you are older, and what will carry you, throughout your life.
7. Know that epiphanies happen when you are at talks, panels, concerts, plays and music and dance performances. No book knowledge will give you insights and perspective into yourself, others and our world, like these experiences will. You will never again have free/cheap access to stages and auditoriums like you will at college. Lucky you! All you have to do is show up with an open mind.
8. Do something creative that makes you happy, every single day. For me, that’s cooking. Most of the time, it is a task that I pour my love and creativity into. It something that I offer up, that I have really put my heart in. For you it may be singing, dancing, writing or something you haven’t discovered yet, but make time to do it every single day. It is an EXPRESSION of yourself, so reading doesn’t count!
9 Know that you are caring, strong and resilient. You just need to believe you can be not just good, but GREAT at anything you put hard work into. Just do it, sweet girl. I love you!
Sangeeta Rao is Assistant Dean at Rutgers Business School. She lives in Maplewood N.J. with her husband and her daughter, who heads off to college this fall.