The Advice I Gave My Son In College:
I enjoyed seeing you this weekend. I believe we had some heartfelt and open conversations. I also think we did not complete or further advance some important conversations we started.
Dad and I are pleased to hear from you that you are doing a good job managing your time, putting in the time for your homework and getting your assignments handed in on time. You also told me you feel you are doing a good job adjusting to your college class schedule as well as your personal schedule (waking up and sleeping, eating in the cafeteria, getting some exerercise, making new acquaintances, etc).
As you have discovered, Time Management is one of the important lessons you get to learn at college. You told me you have several big assignments/projects coming up and you said you were concerned about when you were going to find the time to work on them. Hearing you express this makes me question your decision to come home so often. Yes, weekends are for relaxation and having fun at college, but they are also blocks of time for you to catch up on assignments, or work on complex projects. You know how much of your weekend was left when you got back to school Sunday @ 7pm. And after driving for hours, it’s hard to change gears and pick up your books.
But that’s WHY you are away at college.
To s-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself in every way.
To change gears and start a new, bigger life.
To get an education. To have new experiences.
To meet new people. To find yourself outside of your home base.
To expand who you are and start building who you will become.
These are the reasons we felt it was so important for you to leave Home and have that college experience you told us you wanted. And why we encouraged you to stay in your college town and only come home occasionally.
Is it because we want you to break up with your Girlfriend? NO!
Stop hanging out with the guys? NO!
Get you out of the house so it’s quieter, cleaner, etc? NO!
TO HAVE an experience, you need to BE THERE. You need to be fully committed.
Does that mean giving up everything and everyone you know and love? NO!
Does every college kid get homesick and miss friends and loved ones? YES!
Does every college kid think it would be easier to be back at home doing what they were used to doing? YES!
Does every college kid get scared or mad or sad or pissed off or lonely? YES!
And THAT’S the beauty of being away at college–figuring out how to handle all the feelings, the work, the freedom, the time.
How to have new experiences and new people in your life without losing what is already in your life.
It’s about adding to. Not taking away.
You have demonstrated what being fearless and taking chances and choosing the unknown path looks like. I have been in awe of that since you were a little boy. You assured me you would be OK when you were hospitalized, and you have been. You packed up and traveled across the country many times and willingly entered an athletic arena where you knew you were going to get the s#!* kicked out of you. You reached across the country to connect with strangers who could someday become partners in a career you are building.
That’s the Son I so admire and respect. The one willing to leave home in search of himself. The one who knows the things in life that you really want take time and energy and commitment and hard work. That moving forward can also mean pain and sadness and temporary failure and a lack of instant gratification.
Growing up and becoming a man has little to do with numbers of years lived. A person can stand still in the same place and reach that magic number, but that doesn’t make them a fully developed, whole person.
What does is moving forward, tackling the hard stuff face first, taking the hits, walking into the unknown, being accountable and listening to your head and your heart. Discerning what actions are for your highest good and having the courage to take those steps. That is how girls and boys become Women and Men.
I could tell you what I think you should do. Believe me, Dad and I are FULL of advice and are totally willing and aching to share it. Not because we think we know everything, but because what we DO know might save you some pain.
I used to think, as my little boy’s Mommy, my job was to keep you safe and prevent pain from entering your life.
When you turned 10, the Universe laughed at me and showed me I had a more important job:
To PREPARE you for the pain.
To ENCOURAGE you in every way possible way.
To SUPPORT you long enough–and no longer–for YOU to become strong enough in mind, body and spirit to become truly independent and to take care of yourself in every way.
Does the Mommy of the little boy miss him and want him back home in her arms, happy and carefree? YES!
Does the Mom of the young man want that? NO.
Because I love you enough that I am willing to give you up.
I am willing to forego the instant gratification of having you with me NOW so that you can have the time and freedom to be lonely, and challenged, and afraid and unsure.
I love you enough to want what’s best for YOU, not what feels good for me.
Because that is the way for YOU to become Self Sufficient, Confident, Courageous and Committed to yourself.
The people you love and who truly love you will always be connected to you.
Love is not thwarted by miles or time apart.
It is actually strengthened.
Because that which can stand the test of time and tribulations, endures
and is all the sweeter and more fulfilling in the long run.
I love you, Son.