~Joel’s Blog

New Beginnings: Starting College Is A Big One

The day has arrived. It’s a day we have all been aiming at for 18 years. All of your hard work in grade school, junior high and high school—and it was a lot of hard work—paid off in a big way.

You’re entering as fine an institution for higher education as we could have hoped for you. You have a strong foundation of success that will serve you well. You have established positive behavior patterns and habits that will support you when facing new academic challenges. You’re going to be fine.

Even though you don’t totally believe that.

New Endings

We have all been aiming at this day, every day, for 18 years. It is also true that we’re unprepared for it.

As your parents, our days have pivoted around yours. It’s all a mishmash of folding clothes, making lunches, changing diapers, sitting at the DMV with you, celebrating your awards, driving you to ballet and back, finding places to display all of your artwork, wildly cheering at your tennis matches, comforting you when your heart is broken, getting you up in the morning, tucking you in at night…

So now, we’re wondering, very loudly in our heads, how strange it will be to not have the sound of your voice in the house, to not hear your easy laughter, to not be startled by your wild enthusiasm cascading down the stairs. We’re wondering. We’re nervous. We have been in this together for 18 years. Today marks the moment when we’re in it together…from a distance. It will take time to adjust but we’re going to be fine.

Even though we don’t totally believe that, either.

College Isn’t About The Education

You’re excited about what lies ahead.

We know you are nervous, too, dear daughter. This is normal. Uncomfortable, but normal.

And that’s really the point. Real growth happens out on the fringes of our lives. Real growth comes out the very fertile grounds of our discomfort.

You have, of course, experienced plenty of discomfort in your 18 years. Disappointments, losses, four billion tests, too many papers to write in too little time. Transitioning from one grade to the next, just when you’d finally figured out how to excel in the grade you were leaving. Pressures. Pressures on top of pressures. Learning how to adapt to them. How to become more than you were the year before, the week before, the minute before.

Which is just like now.

At college, you will fill your mind with amazing insights and knowledge that many of your fellow citizens on earth will never have access to. Your opportunity is great, for the data points you will absorb will be given context by your professors. They will help you attach true meaning to what would otherwise be too many trivia bits to impress people with.

Glean all you can from your professors. Ask questions. Don’t let go of them until you have teased out everything they have. Make them level up to your inquisitiveness. They will respect you for your tenacity and you will love them for the wisdom they impart.

College isn’t just about the education. It’s about gaining wisdom.

Knowledge is useful.

Wisdom is indispensable.

Oysters and Things

“The world is your oyster!” We encourage you to embrace this oh-so-Shakespearian concept. Some would share this quote because they want you to know you are free of many of the responsibilities that come later in life. They would say you can achieve anything or go anywhere because you have the opportunity or ability to do so. Others would say that you are so privileged and empowered that you are in a position to influence your future. Both views are correct. We know you have accomplished many great things so far and that you are capable of much more.

Yet, be mindful that oysters are difficult to open. They do not yield easily. The shells are sharp. We live in a world that has a comprehensive system for opening them, with industrial gloves and specialty knives. Or massive machines for processing mountains of oysters at once.

But keep this in mind, dear daughter. Way back in time there was some poor sap who grabbed a rock and smashed an oyster with it, discovering the goodness within, busted shell bits and all.

You’ll feel a kinship to that shmuck many times during your college years. And the years that follow. Years full of new beginnings.

The oyster of life will not easily yield. You’ll get cut and bruised. You’ll wonder—more times than you can count—what is so important about this stupid oyster. It can be painful. It resists. You’ll try again and again to open its secrets, using what tools you’ve got because you haven’t yet discovered more effective ones that others have used. But eventually you will find them. Chances are, you’ll invent even better tools along the way.

Final Words

Embrace discomfort, Sweet Pea. Try new things. Ask loads of questions. Don’t relent. You are an amazingly strong young woman. Don’t forget that. You are also so very compassionate, caring deeply about others. It is right there–in that melding of your strength and your compassion–that you will make your impact upon the world.

  1. Bring everything you have. Every day.
  2. But know you are never alone. You are not in this by yourself.
  3. Welcome the strength that others will share with you when you stumble. Accept the compassion others will wrap you with when you are hurting.
  4. Maintain your skepticism. Questioning everything will make you crazy. Questioning nothing will make you a zombidiot. Not everything is right. Not everyone is worthy of you.
  5. Safeguard your spiritual health. Hunker down everyday with an anchor passage. We recommend Psalm 103.
  6. You already know how to eat right. Beware of those bearing bags of popcorn! Beware!
  7. Laugh a lot. Help others laugh a lot. It helps keep everything in perspective.
  8. Feed your imagination. Keep writing your amazing fantasy story. Shoot for a page everyday. Most days that will only require an hour, at most. And a year from now, you’ll have two more books in your series.

Parents will understand why I want to keep writing more to this letter. But the day has come.

Know this, beloved daughter. We are always here for you. Always. No matter the miles.

We fully entrust you now to be the independent person you have become. We have been blessed to nurture you right up to this day. And on this day we release you. You’ll have many new beginnings.

The world is your oyster, Jessica. And the world is better to have you in it. Your strength, compassion and wisdom is exactly what this world needs. Carpe diem.

With the greatest love and affection from your very proud parents,
Mom & Dad

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