This letter, or should I say lengthy novel, is something I have considered sharing with my younger sister, H, before she heads off to college. I am so excited because she has committed to attend San Diego State University in the Fall, and obviously I am going to force her to hang out with me! I haven’t shared this letter with her, and maybe I won’t. I want her to find her happiness in her own way and on her own terms. But at least I can get my thoughts, tips, and advice out on paper.
I am SO proud of you. You did it. You FINALLY have made a decision solely for you, and you only. You have taken a huge leap of faith to attend a school in a new state, where you don’t know a damn soul. Except me of course. But you did something rare, something your other siblings wanted to do and didn’t. You are bold, and I look up to you. As an older sister, I feel obligated to give you some tips and thoughts on how to successfully survive college before you embark on this EPIC journey.
-The first one is important: Make friends with everyone. Be nice to everyone. Then the shitty friends will start to weed out and the rock solid ones will be your best friends for life. Specifically make sure to meet people living in your dorm. Some of my best memories include gatherings in each others’ dorm rooms and laughing our asses off until 4 in the morning. Our brother B always told me, college will be the fastest four years of your life. It’s resonated with me ever since. Take time to meet great people, have a fucking blast, and don’t have regrets.
-Keep in touch with your loved ones. Absence lets the heart grow fonder. CLICHÉ but seriously. You will love your loved ones even more and appreciate the small windows of opportunity available to see each other. So take the leap and fly across the country for the weekend to visit a friend. Or jump in your car and take a drive to see an old buddy that is going through a hard time. Remember: keeping in touch is a two way street so do your part and your friends will have your back in return.
-Getting a care package from home is equivalent to opening a birthday gift. It’s not quite a present, and sometimes is just a box of old clothes and some easy mac, but it is something from home. And it makes you happy and appreciative. I’ll never forget when Dad and Mamma sent me those giant Costco poppy seed muffins, I was fucking amped!
-Leggings are pants. FACT.
-Consider getting a part time job or volunteering. I worked at the Battered Women’s Shelter and you know it changed my life. It makes you look good on paper and feel good as a person. It also can influence your job hunting in the future. Which is arguably one of the worst parts of becoming an adult…but that is a conversation for down the road.
-A 20 page paper is actually a 17 page paper with wider margins. Write that down.
-Doing your laundry is an absolute nightmare. You will be sharing with literally hundreds of people, who forget to take out their clothes. Plus, my laundry was located three floors down, and we didn’t have an elevator, so you can imagine I was real chipper after this experience. I would wear literally everything I owned before I would put myself through that misery. This was a big reason I adopted a seemingly commando lifestyle. When appropriate, of course.
-Books are seriously so expensive. IF you can get a cheap rental or share with a trusty comrade, I advice to do so. Otherwise prepare to spend the money for your next concert on a huge effing book. It is a painful awakening paying for shit you seriously don’t want but need. This is foreshadowing adulthood…
-As a general rule, avoid boys that use the word “Hella” and whose wardrobe only consists of salmon shorts, boat shoes, and the entire rainbow of Ralph Lauren hats. Are you taking notes?
-Your body is at its peak ability. So take advantage of that and go for hikes, go swim in the ocean, go to parties and stay out late. Challenge yourself now to do as much as you can as often as you can-it builds a certain lifestyle for your future. I had friends that played video games about 40 hours a week in college. Three years after graduation some of them have good jobs, some of them play video games for 40 hours a week. Sidenote: Not bashing video games, You and I used to game with Dad on the reg! But that was after my lacrosse and after your soccer and after hanging with friends and after doing other things. Keep your spirit for life young and stay active!
-Boys: Welcome to the DANGER ZONE. Just kidding. College is the time you are going to meet some of the coolest boys In your life. You’re going to make some lifetime guy friends, who will have your back like you’re their sister. But you also need to be careful. There are three big thoughts here:
1.BE SMART. Don’t go home with just anyone, make sure you know them and trust them. I’m obviously being over protective on this category but please remember that not everyone is as nice as you, and it’s ok to have a guard up initially and NOT GO HOME WITH ANYONE RANDOM. Be smart.
2. It’s ok to “date” around until you find someone worth your undivided attention. Go out on dates, meet new people, don’t read a book by its cover. One of the best dates I ever went on was with a French dude that barely spoke English. But I learned so much from him, and secretly was fascinated by him. But didn’t want to see him again. Just don’t sleep around. College is a cess- pool of disease and honestly it’s not worth it. Again, refer to number 1.
3. This is by far the most important rule: Do not dump your friends for your boyfriend. I have told you this is my number one insult that my friends have done to me, and it is awful. I had a boyfriend all through college, but still managed to be a great friend, or at least in my opinion. Don’t quit on friend for a boy….Because you know what happens….
CUE: an extremely long example: Your friend comes home crying to you. You comfort her. She tells you her boyfriend is a huge asshole and she never wants to see him again. You say you understand, and you start thinking wow her boyfriend is a real prick I don’t think I like him at all. Then the next morning you text her and say “hey girl, just checking in on you and making sure you are doing alright.” And she says “oh yea..I’m fine. I’m just with my man, we’re going out to eat tonight if you want to join.” And you’re like NAH, that fuck kept me up all night because he hurt your feelings and made you cry. I think I’ll chill here. Hold on…the plot thickens….then she comes home later in the week-crying-and most likely drunk-“OMG dude he is so mean to me like why am I with him he treats me like shit I deserve better. I fucking hate him. Do you hate him? Of course you hate him. ME TOO. Female power AM I RIGHT?!? ” And you’re like, “Hey dude it’s ok just take a breather. Yes he sucks, I’m sorry that’s terrible.” Then you proceed to take care of her again. Then you start realizing your friend is with a total douche bag, or maybe your friend is mildly insane when it comes to men, but either way you develop a distaste for his presence. Then…wait for it…you make plans to go to a concert or a movie with her the next night to make her feel better. But she texts you thirty minutes before, and says” hey dude me and my boyfriend are going out and meeting up with his friends, come!” And your like NAH dude I hate your boyfriend he is so mean to you. And she’s like “what ??? Why?? Omg no he is not! Wow that’s really mean of you. He has done nothing to you” and then you’re like “Seriously dude? He actually has kept my ass busy taking care of you and worrying about you but I’m realizing I’m wasting my time.” Then you start to drift apart. Because this bullshit happens ALL THE TIME. Don’t be one of those girls. Ever. Be a good friend, be a good girlfriend, and be a good person. Told you it was a long example.
-Pay attention in class and you will study less than those who dick around on their phones all day. I NEVER brought my laptop to class and I’m seriously telling you not to unless you need it for that specific day. I would see my friends on Facebook for the entire lecture, not taking a single note. With technology advancing quicker than I eat a popsicle, I feel like you will be allowed to record your professor or skype him from your dorm. Don’t fall for the that trap…college is full of free time, so use your class time for class. The old fashion way of studying allows you to hear it, write it, then think it. I promise you will have to study less if you pay attention to your teachers, make eye contact, and engage yourself in the material. Your professors have Masters degrees, and are pretty much geniuses that are there to challenge you. Get to know them. As much as “favorites” shouldn’t be a part of a teachers vocabulary-it certainly is. If your grade is on the cusp of a B-, rest assured your teacher will consider bumping it to a B for you rather than the kid who never shows up or the kid who rapid fire texts the entire semester. If your professor knows you, you have room to develop an actual bond which equals one word. RECOMMENDATIONS. Which are imperative if you plan on furthering your education beyond undergrad. I still keep in touch with one of my favorite professors, and I contribute a lot to him for helping me get into one of the best schools in California. Keep in mind that you will likely change your major multiple times and graduate not knowing if you selected the right one. Don’t fret. The person you become in college matters more than the major you choose. You are hard on yourself, and that’s a good thing. But You’re one of the smartest people I know, so I know you will be A-OK regardless.
-Pizza at 3AM is a core meal in your future diet. Plan for this accordingly by not slugging too many beers or those freshman 15 are going to sink in nicely and make themselves at home.
-Play intramurals! I met one of my best friends randomly playing, it is so much fun. My team, named Two Balls One Stick, Won the broomball champion, remember that? I talked about it for almost a year. And it’s on my resumé. No shame.
Drinking and Drugs: We have had this discussion before. You know how I feel about drugs. JUST DON’T DO THEM. I know you won’t, you have a good head on your shoulders. But drinking, it’s gonna happen around you a lot. A ton of people come to college after 18 years of being told what to do, and go completely ape shit once they are on their own-raging six times a week like a god damn animal. Don’t fall in that category. But going out and partying is fine as long as you are safe. Again we have had this conversation. Make sure you stay in groups, leave the party together or at least check on your friend to make sure she is with another friend. Don’t EVER put someone to sleep that appears entirely too intoxicated. And you know I take this one personally because of J. J had far too much to drink, and was sent to bed to “sleep it off”. Losing J was one of saddest things that has ever happened to my friends and I, and we learned a harsh lesson from it. Don’t wait to learn that lesson. Life is too short and we are not invincible.
I’ll repeat a solid line of advice someone once gave me: Make smart stupid choices. It’s ok to make mistakes, and make choices that might not lead to the absolute best consequences, because sometimes it’s how you learn and sometimes it’s just plain fun. But don’t be a dumbass.
And as always…don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
Love you and can’t wait to see you out on the West coast!