To my sister, on her first day of college

FullSizeRender (20).jpgDear Vicky,

When you start college our parents will officially be empty nesters and you will begin 4 of the most turbulent and formative years of your life.

This is different than any of your first days of high school. Mom and Dad won’t be there to take care of you, but I know that you’re ready for this.

READ: Freshman year – Sophomore yearJunior yearSenior year

You’ve expressed some doubts about starting over – having to make friends from scratch in a new city, unsure of what you want to study and what you want to do, but if I were you, I would view the start of college as an opportunity.

I’m sure that you’ve been itching for freedom. Take your first year to explore the breadth of offerings that college offers. Whether that’s taking the time to explore your city or joining a lot of clubs, you tend to get lazier as time goes by and focus on a few select extracurriculars.

One thing that you might forget to do is make time for yourself. You’ll be caught up in your classes and new friends, and you’ll likely be very busy on the weekends, but one of the things I never knew I needed was alone time. Time to do the things that you and I did so much when we were in high school. Sit alone, read a book, watch TV, surf the web, and not feel self conscious about any of it.

In college, you’ll feel pressured to spend every waking moment doing something “social”, but sometimes the most productive thing is to slink back to your room and spend the night chilling. Don’t dismiss that instinct.

And finally, if there were ever a better time to re-evaluate some things and start over, now would be the time.

For me, that was deciding not to continue debate, even though I originally picked Northwestern for its debate program. It was deciding to go by Cat instead of Catherine, and making a conscious effort to be more outgoing and talkative.

I thought I’d study political science and become a diplomat. Then I switched to economics to pursue who knows what, and finally landed on journalism, discovering marketing as a dynamic profession and interest.

Looking back, I can’t imagine my life any other way. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t lived in my dorm freshman year and made the friends I made? My point is, you can never predict the direction your college career will take – you just have to work hard, make friends and have a good time. Either way, you’ll come out fine in the end.

Love,

Cat

A playlist of some of my summer faves:

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