The time will one day come when you and I clear the shelves at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Grab those fluffy pillows and picture frames and a zebra-printed comforter. You’ll love that groovy bean bag and shaggy rug and plush towels and what the hey, let’s throw in a water filtration pitcher.
You’ll pack all of your new stuff into Rubbermaid totes and cram them into the back of my 14-year-old SUV (with horrible gas mileage and faulty lumbar settings) that has been passed down to you. You’ll toss a couple of photo albums and a suitcase of clothes and your old ragged Pillow Pet in the back seat and you’ll be ready to go to college.
Your father, he will cry. He’ll really try not to cry, but he will. You are his baby girl- our first born. He’ll pretend his watery eyes are a result of the high pollen count, but don’t let him fool you. Those aren’t allergies. Those are tears.
Your baby brother will pretend that he’s ecstatic to see you go. Don’t let him fool you, either. You are his sis, his best friend, the first girl he ever learned to treat with respect. He’ll blame his sniffles on the high pollen count, too, but you know he doesn’t even suffer with allergies. You’ve always been able to see right through him. Remember the “I Swear I Don’t Know Where Your American Girl Doll Is” incident of 2013?
I won’t pretend that my antihistamines aren’t working. You’ll know for certain that the tears falling from my eyes and the phlegm running from my nostrils are the product of raw emotion. You are my precious daughter, and I could never send you to summer camp without sobbing, much less college.
There are some things that I want you to know before you reverse down the driveway and enter the real world armed with a shower caddy and a Caboodle of cruelty-free makeup.
You need to know that you’re beautiful. Both inside and out. Don’t let anyone take advantage of your inner or outer beauty. Continue to treat others with kindness, but don’t be a doormat. Don’t continue to cover for your roommate every time her parents stop by and she’s shacked up in a boy’s dorm room wearing a beer funnel hat and half a toga. And don’t fall for some jackhole’s insincere compliments when they float to your ear on breath riddled with PGA punch.
You need to remember your dreams. Don’t let socializing appeal to you so much that you lose sight of why you are really there. Remember your priorities, your goals, your future- even when your roommate tells you that studying isn’t as important as going to a party at some guy named Hawk’s apartment- an apartment that smells like burnt taco meat and urine.
You need to know that these will be some of the best years of your life. You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime, and I encourage you to have a great time while discovering who you really are and learning valuable lessons. Just make sure that the memories don’t involve anything (too) illegal.
You need to know that you will probably encounter some cruel girls who are jealous of your brains and your beauty. If they talk about you and give you a hard time, rise above it. If you just can’t rise above it, shut them up with the quick-witted sarcasm that you inherited from me.
You need to know that drunkenness doesn’t make you cool. Look at your roommate. See how the froth from the Solo cup in her hand keeps spilling all over her tube top while she dances on Hawk’s coffee table made of a large cable spool? She isn’t even aware that she’s soaked in Pabst Blue Ribbon, and yet she continues to sing the classic hit, “Royals” very loudly and very off-key. She doesn’t care that Hawk just spent twenty minutes smoking a bong and making fart sounds under his armpit (while eyeing you), she’s on the verge of sticking her tongue down his throat. That’s not cool. Don’t. Do. That.
(Maybe we need to find you another roommate.)
You need to remember to call me every day. I need to hear your voice. I need to know what you’re doing. I need to know that you’re safe. I need to know you aren’t going to the movies with Hawk. Call your mama, girl.
You need to cling to and rely on the true faith and morals and values that have been instilled in you since you were a little girl. If it feels good, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. It means you should call me first and we’ll discuss whether or not you should do it. I’m already guessing you shouldn’t.
You need to know that you have a family who will always be there for you. Even if I’m in my tattered robe and slathered in wrinkle cream, I will drop everything and be there in two seconds if you need someone to talk to or someone to punch Hawk in the face.
You need to remember to stay away from Hawk. Period.
As you study and wish you could drown out the horrible screeching of your roommate singing Grandma Gaga’s latest hit, wrap yourself in the plush BBB comforter and remember what I’ve told you.
You aren’t just one fair face in a sea of thousands.
You can be anything. You can make a beautiful difference in this big, scary world. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are kind. You are blessed. You are loved. You are ours.
You are forbidden to date Hawk.
Or anyone remotely like him.
This post was written by Susannah Lewis and originally published on her blog Whoa! Susannah. Check out Susannah's bio below to follow her on social media.