A New Freshman
We are back from our trip across the country to drop off the older daughter at college. In the departure lounge at the airport, waiting for the flight home, I wrote this to my new freshman.
My dear daughter:
Mom, your sister and I are at the airport waiting for our flight back to the Bay Area. I decided to take advantage of a little quiet time to make sure you know how very, very proud we are of you as you start this next part of your life’s journey. When the University President and Dean spoke today about how impressive the freshman class is this year, I was impressed; but I also was certain that you fit in quite well with this group of students. You deserve to be where you are tonight.
I have told you many times about the lesson I learned from a coach – a lesson that you quite possibly are tired of hearing from me. All problems fit into one of two categories – those things that you can do something about and those that you can do nothing about. If you cannot do anything, then there is no need to worry because the issue is out of your control. If you can do something, then there is no need to worry because you can better spend that mental energy doing something instead of worrying. This you have heard from me many times.
Now, I’d like to take this one step further. Think about what you can actually do, not just about the results that you want to achieve. For example, don’t worry about what grade you might get in a class, but rather think about what energy and attention you can give that class (or what resources are available to you). If you spend your time and your energy on what you can do, then there is no reason to concern yourself with grades because they are beyond your control.
And as you focus on what you can do, strive for excellence in everything. Know that you probably will never truly accomplish excellence – very few people ever do – but nevertheless constantly strive for it. That way, you will stretch yourself in ways that you never realized were possible, and you will learn more and accomplish more than you expect of yourself (and I know how high your expectations of yourself can be!).
Mom and I have a goal for you: that you find lifelong interests to which you will dedicate your life and energy. Don’t go looking for our interests; go out and find your own. If what you decide to pursue is not what we might have dreamed for you, then remember these magic words: “This is important to me.” I promise that I will try as hard as I can to be supportive of whatever is important to you.
We love you, sweetheart. As you build a life of your own, know that it will be an addition to – and not a replacement for – your life with us. We will always be in your biggest fans and true-blue supporters.