dear mary: an open letter to my college-bound little sister


Dear Marybear,

There are a few reasons being four years apart in age hasn’t always been fun- we never got to be in high school together and sometimes we’ve been on completely different pages. But now you get to (hopefully) benefit from the fact that we’re both graduating this year- besides the money we’ll save by combining all of our Class of 2014 paraphernalia.

Not that you need my advice, but maybe if you remember a few of the things I learned in college, going away in the fall will be a little easier. Here it goes.

I know people almost always make you roll your eyes, but give them a chance, Mar. You’re about to meet some of the best friends you will ever have. You’re also about to encounter some of the dumbest people you’ve ever met, but I know you’ll have a golden response to everything they throw at you.

I know new things are scary, but find the thing you love and do it with all you have. Join something that makes you smile. You know the newspaper changed everything about my college experience, and I want you to find the thing that brings that much joy and pride into your life, too.

I know it’s hard to put your foot down, but be with the people that make you happy. Sometimes the friends you meet the first day stick with you, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes some of the most important people you know won’t surface until junior and senior year. But your time is too short to spend it with people who make you feel any kind of bad about yourself.

I know you hate getting out of bed, but go to class as much as you can. You’re like me, I think, in that it hurts your pride a little too much to do poorly. You’re the smartest person I know, but trust me when I say going to class will make your life a lot easier.

I know that boys are fun and so are boyfriends, but be careful with your heart, cutie. I can tell you with conviction that it’s better to have loved and lost, but the losing can be hard. You’re too young to be anything but happy in your relationships. Just remember you deserve the best, and accept nothing less.

I know that alcohol is fun too, but trust me on this- if you think you’ve had enough, you have. Don’t let anyone else convince you to do anything you don’t want to. Real friends want you to have fun and be safe, and you have to be able to trust each other. Take lots of pictures, but don’t put them all on Facebook. And remind me to teach you about privacy settings.

There are going to be times you make mistakes and miss home and want to cry but feel awkward about it because there’s really nowhere to be alone in your dorm. You’ll want to quit because you have too much homework and a hangover and you miss the cat and mom and dad. But there are also going to be times you try new things and meet new people and get really excited about the opportunities ahead of you. You’ll want to take on the challenges and go to the parties and wish that college could continue just a little (or a lot) longer.

Most of all, remember that you’re smart, you’re beautiful, and you are unimaginably loved. Remember that I am always only a phone call away- and that whatever “it” is,  I’ve been there and done that, and you are never alone. I’m so proud of you, Mary.

Good luck. Have fun. Be safe.

all the love I have,

your big sister. xoxo