I ran across this photo recently. It was taken the summer before I went to college, which was exactly *gasp* 18 years ago. It came to mind when I was thinking about what to write here this week. I thought about composing a list of tips for students headed off to college for the first time in a few weeks. What 36 year old me would tell 18 year old me to get out of the experience. I thought about writing a letter to my old self; warning of the pitfalls, encouraging the chances worth taking and nudging towards things left undone.
There were plenty of ideas and much to say but as I looked at the girl in the picture, her eyes full of hope, I decided I wouldn’t actually want to say any of it.
I wouldn’t want her to know all the ways in which the next four years were (and weren’t) going to shape her. I wouldn’t want to tell her that words were her thing, because what if they weren’t at eighteen. Maybe they needed time to develop. I wouldn’t have wanted her to know the exact moment she would find love. She might have run from it. I could have told her to savor every moment with the person who took that picture, because she wouldn’t be around eighteen years later. But she likely wouldn’t have believed me. Just as she wouldn’t understand that, at her age, she had barely scratched the surface of the depth of love. And gratitude. And humanity.
I would want her to have her journey.