In this moment, as my second daughter prepares herself, (and me), for her freshman year at college, I have taken a pause in the mad rush of college decisions. In this moment, I think about all that lay ahead for my daughter, all the amazing, heart wrenching, beautiful, difficult life lessons she will learn over the course of the next four years. In this moment, I put aside college rankings, price tags and acceptance rates and wonder if she will experience some of the same things I did, more than 30 years later.
-if packing up the car up or boarding the plane for freshman year, the anticipation and fear will fight for bragging rights.
-if when she walks on campus, knowing she will be staying, she will feel a mix of strong emotions, she has never felt before – pride, excitement, fear, belonging and a sense of leaving childhood behind, for real
-if she will walk into her dorm that first day knowing nobody, and think, I want to go home. And then will walk out on the last day of that first year, and think, I don’t want to go home.
-if she will spend hours with her roommates or friends, talking about everything and nothing.
-if she will debate and question how she feels about life, love and the stupid stuff she did the night before.
-if she will then form an opinion, only to change it a few days later.
-if she will have that one friend who she will be able to laugh with until their sides ache, and another that will betray her trust. And If this will be the same person.
-if she will hate the dining hall food, but not care.
-if she will wake up with a stomach ache from a late night pizza run, but do it again that same week.
-If she will drink coffee at midnight during finals week-if she will road trip, study abroad or stay put.
-if she will get that one bad grade that humbles her, showing her how different college is than high school, and how much there is still to learn about the world.
-if she will have that one professor who loves her job, pouring her heart into her lessons, and also the one who is tired, and just getting by.
-if she will be turned on by a topic she never dreamed she would like, and also have that one boring class that will make her question her major.
-if she will walk into a lecture hall of 500 other students, and feel like a number, and if the sting of that will fade as she cheers on her school team, feeling the unity and spirit.
-if she will catch a boy’s eye from across the room, knowing the feeling is mutual, but not know what to do about it.
-if she will fall in love or get her heart broken.
-if she will yearn to be seen and heard, protesting her beliefs or pour her heart into her books, making a quieter home within stained glass library walls-if she will have too much to drink one night, and if she will be cared for or cared less about.
-if college will feel like a second home or temporary housing.
-if she will read a book that will change her life.
I will look at her over Thanksgiving and Christmas break and see how she has changed.
She will develop the strongest of connections, the deepest of memories. And both will last far longer than that college sticker on the back of my car.
She will live through these next four years, thinking it will last forever, and it will be end in the blink of an eye.