It feels surreal, doesn’t it. It’s finally here. Finally.
I graduated 18 years ago. This means I’ve been out of high school for your entire life. “Enjoy these years, they’ll go so fast”, everyone kept saying. Someday you’ll realize why.
The girls in this picture were once 18 and ready to take on the world. We were leaving home and never coming back, at least not anytime soon. We had no idea what our lives had in store. We had no idea it would all go this fast.
I am so proud of you. You are an exceptional human. I’m so sad to see you leave home but the world has big plans for you and you are so ready.
It’s hard to leave these friends, you’ve had them literally your entire life. Here’s a secret about these friends – you’ll have them forever. You can’t make old friends and you’ll realize this more as the years go by. There's comfort in their familiarity that you won't find anywhere else. You might drift apart as your lives find their paths, but you find your way back. They'll forever be some of your greatest friends, regardless of the distance in between.
I want you to realize that so many of the most important people in your life you have yet to meet. I can’t wait for you to meet your college friends. Some of them you’ll feel like you’ve always known. Make the most of your time with them because you’ll all go your separate ways when it’s over. You say with the best of intentions that you’ll see each other soon. Soon will turn into a decade, maybe two. So go to the games with them. When they invite you to their hometown for a three-day weekend, go.
These upcoming years will be amazing. You won’t ever get these years back so I hope you make the most of them. I hope you travel and go to all the places you want to go. Don’t save those trips for someday, because once college is over and the real world begins, it’s not as easy to go take those trips. I hope you watch the sun set and the sun rise from places you’ve always dreamed of going.
I hope you find the spark that lights a fire in you and find a way to fuel your days with that spark – every day. Don’t stress too much on decisions and career paths – you’ll figure it out. Whatever you choose doesn’t have to be forever, but I hope it leads you to what you were always meant to do.
It’s hard to leave home, but you can always come back. (And I hope if you want to, you do.)
I hope you take the time to write your mom a few letters, real letters with words she can hold in her hands. I hope you do the same for your friends. I have a Dr. Martens box from 2003 still sitting in my closet with letters from friends. We didn't have social media yet and texting was new. Letters require a great deal of effort, thought, and love. Words on paper are the best kind.
I hope you know that nothing is permanent. This is both a blessing and a curse. You can pick a new major and you can choose a new career. You can always move back home and you can always move to wherever your dreams take you. People will come into your life and stay, they’ll come and go, or they’ll go and come back. (Birkenstocks and scrunchies have a way of coming back, too). You’ll realize there’s no coincidences.
Above all else, I hope you know that you are ready, so ready, for this world. Hang on to the dreams you’ve carried with you from the beginning – you’ll need them from time to time. We will be here, cheering you on every step of the way. Don't forget, it's going to go fast.