Friday, September 2, 2011

to my baby sister as she goes to college

remember this girl and how she's turning into me and stuff?
well, she goes off to college-land this weekend!
and so, i wrote her something
which, when i find time, i will actually print out and give to her in some kind of aesthetically appealing manner
[she's so excited right now]

and because i love my readers, i'm sharing its contents
i know, it is lengthy
but maybe you can pretend my wisdom is worth the long read

dearest baby sister,

this weekend, you're going away to college
i wish there was a way to tell you everything i wish i had known when i was a freshman
but maybe some of it you're supposed to mess up
until you learn, on your own, how not to be a freshman anymore
[but then again, i've never been one for refraining when i have something i want to say
now have i?]

let's begin with roommates
because they are the first thing you'll encounter when you arrive
and you'll awkwardly say hello in the kitchen
and awkwardly choose whose cupboard is whose
and awkwardly perch on the stiff couches
making awkward small talk
but before you know it
you will spend soooo much time on those couches
until 3am, talking and talking and talking
sleep will become a distant memory
[i have good reason to believe i didn't sleep before 2am my entire sophomore year. i think i shall prematurely age because of it....]

but this chapter is not about sleep
there will be plenty of time for that in grown-up life
so don't bother with it now
unless you think you might have an insomnia-induced panic attack
in which case
please, sister of mine, sleep
i won't devote an entire paragraph to the best strategies for napping on campus
[though i will recommend lying underneath corner tables in the library]

but back to roommates
and people in general
let me give you my biggest piece of advice:
and all that those two words entail
please, please choose now to always be kind

if you can make me just one promise that you won't break
i'd ask you not to ever gossip
please. don't. gossip.
and don't speak unkindly about anyone
even if it's funny, or makes you fit in with the crowd
simply choose not to do it.
who, really, does that benefit?
not you
certainly not them

so when the backbiting starts
or sides start to get taken
please be the one who stands up for everyone
even if they are different or weird or rude or don't shower enough
because that person probably needs you the most
and you might always regret it if you tear them down
[note: don't be the one who doesn't shower enough. that's all.]

and when it comes to chores, etc
don't expect everything to be fair
just always do a little more than you think you should
because if you refuse to mop the floor
because you did the dishes yesterday
i promise, it'll never add up
and somebody will always be disgruntled
so just do what you can
to make others' lives easier
and then...
do a little more

and don't leave people's DVDs out where they can get scratched
because you know how i feel about that
[now is not the appropriate time to point out that i can't work the dvd player without your help. i assume your roommates will be more tech savvy than i am.]
[umm...can i still call you when i can't work the dvd player? kthanks]

and one more thing about roommates
just remember
that the right time to be there for someone
is right when they need you
even if it's 2am
or 6am
and you're really tired and have a big test in the morning
trust me
your roommate is more important
than the difference between an A and an A-

and one more thing about roommates,
you'll be in such close proximity
with people who grew up in such different ways
and you never know all the reasons
why people believe the way they do
so please
let them have their opinions
stand by your own, but let them have theirs
smile, hug, and let it go
turns out it's ok to agree to disagree

and sometimes, you have to let people have their way
even if it means they hang up an ugly picture in the living room
if it means a lot to them,
just let them hang it up
because if it's important to them
make it important to you
 [and maybe try naming it hogarth for endearment purposes]

and by all means,
you can stress for weeks about something you need to get off your chest
but once you sit down
and carefully chat about it
you'll usually wonder why you didn't say it sooner

and also,
as quickly as you can
even if it means not getting your way
or not getting that last little jab in
just sacrifice your need to be right
no matter how frustratingly, annoyingly wrong you think the other person is
accept their apology
or forgive their lack of apology
and let it go

let's move on to academics
first of all, don't ever think a life plan is set in stone
take it from someone who changed her major like 6 times
turns out i ended up with a very well-rounded education
so, do what you need to do
 even if it sets you back a semester, don't get frustrated

our mama once told me
"you're never wasting time if you're learning something."
and i can honestly say i learned the entire time
[yes, even when i spent a semester as a Home Ec major]

and when you settle on your final major
don't let it be because you think you'll make a ton of money
or because other people tell you it's what you should do
do it because you love it
and not like hobby kind of love
rather, like the you-can't-get-enough-of-your-textbooks kind of love
i did that, in the end
and have never once regretted it
even if the career part has been a little tricky
things will pan out

and about that whole career thing
make sure you have at least some kind of plan in mind
because not everyone graduates married with a baby on the way
and it'll be a bit of a shock
if you have that diploma in hand
and zero goals to go with it
[trust me]

and when it comes to grades
please don't kill yourself for a 4.0
by all means, do your best
work your little hindparts off and give it your all
but if sometimes your best only means a B
and every once in awhile, a (gasp!) lowly C
then accept it
and move on

especially if the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.8
means those moments with your roommates
and those spontaneous roadtrips
and the memories
that you'll remember a lot longer
than you remember another test you got a 98 on

speaking of memories,
you might get homesick
i can't even tell you how many times
i called home crying during my freshman year
and sophomore, junior, and senior years
[wait, i still do that sometimes, don't i?]

because frankly, sometimes it's hard
especially when the weather bites
and there's nobody to talk to
and you don't want to make your own food anymore
or you sprained your ankle and had to ride across campus in a shopping cart
[wait, who does that?]
and you are stressed out and just want to cry
call mom. call dad.
let it all out

i promise they won't tell you you're stupid
even if its the 10th time you've changed your major
and even if you failed a chemistry test
or lit a microwave on fire
or dropped a pizza in the dishwasher
it'll all be okay
you can call me, too
i'm pretty good at listening to people cry
[and i happen to know a lot about microwave fires...]

i suppose i should talk about boys
those fellas
them menfolk
because sooner or later, they'll happen to you
they'll probably explode into your life all at once
because even if high school was a drought...
when it rains it pours, baby sister

first, let me say
that you need to be straightforward
it's okay to not like someone back
but you must be honest with the fellas
and openly communicate
and be kind to their little hearts

and, don't date the pretty ones if they're no good to you
and don't talk yourself into dating a nice one just because he's nice to you
if there's no sparks there, then you both deserve someone more suited for you

don't be in any rush
but make sure it's important to you
and make sure you're open to whatever happens
even if it's not what you planned

and as for life plans
make them!
write lists and lists of goals
put your dreams on sticky notes
and plaster them on your walls, notebooks and bathroom mirror
and then when life takes a twist
be willing to change those goals
alter them
or let them go, if you must
don't hold on too tight to something if it's not right

learn to tell yourself no
but also learn to tell yourself yes
because you deserve to dream big
never let a GPA
or a fancy certificate
or someone else's opinion
define your personal success

i'm sure there is more i could say
i could probably write an entire book
[um, maybe i already have]
but just a couple last pieces of advice:
eat well
take care of your bod
keep a journal, so you can learn from yourself
figure out your personal standards and stick to them like glue
don't be afraid to be good
don't live beneath yourself just to fit in
but don't judge anyone who does
just love them
and they'll figure it out, even if it's the hard way

expect big things out of yourself
but don't beat yourself up if you're not perfect
and don't be afraid to take risks every now and again
and leaps of faith
if you ask yourself, "why not?"
and your only answer is that you're afraid
then tell yourself to stop thinking
and jump in with both feet

and of course,
never. stop. doing. that.

and please,
always come home at Christmas
so we can take stupid pictures in front of the tree

heart, katilda

[i am so totally creepy in this picture]


Emma Frances said...

You and your sister are so cute. :) Also, this oaths best advice ever. I hope I can do something like this for my sister in a year but if mine sounds dumb I'll probably send her over to your blog to read this. Thanks for sharing your wonderful advice. I will be following lots of it.

Chelsea said...

This is SO sweet. I love it. I wish I had an older sister to write me sweet things and give me advice like that! You are good, girl! Is your sista going to SUU, too? Also. We should probably meet if you're coming up for homecoming, huh? I think that'd be way fun!

Laura! said...

So, sorry for the late comment on this! Things got crazy, but I DID read all of it and I love this! Thanks :) I feel like this is personalized extension of Vienna by Billy Joel haha I'll be awaiting the swankified version of this so I can hang it up for all to see what a cool sistah I have

indeazgirl said...

Look at you all totally brilliant. really. that's perfect.

Unknown said...

Your protectiveness towards your grown up baby sister is endearing. Also, your advice are sweet and practical. I hope that by keeping them in her thoughts, she’s able to enjoy her college years. How is she doing now? If my calculations are correct, she’ll be graduating from college in a year, give or take. I hope everything continues to do well. Have a great day!

Valerie Casey @ The Studemont Group CFS