The other day you were touring the fine institution that is Washington State University. I don't really remember how we got to talking but I asked you how you were feeling about touring colleges and you said something along the lines of great, I feel confident, but then you said something that hit me oddly hard, you said, "I'm so ready for college."
Now let me stop you right there. You are not ready for college, mostly because if I'm in my third year and I'm not ready for college, you don't get to be ready for college. Maybe you are ready to not be in high school or living with your parents, but I don't even think you know what college is like. I didn't.
I don't think you've thought about everything. You haven't thought about the first time you get sick and there's no one around to take care of you so you lay in your bed and you're hungry but you're too weak to walk across the street to get food so you lay there for a couple days. Because you take care of you now.
I don't think you've thought about the fact that sometimes you will have too many friends and you will get overwhelmed by being liked, and the demands that being involved on campus require. Some days, when you really need someone, you'll find yourself completely and utterly alone. And you will cry. You may not think it now, but you will cry. Because everyone else is taking care of them, and you're taking care of you.
Maybe you haven't thought about the fact that some of the decisions that you make in college will affect you for the rest of your life. You are suddenly 100% responsible for who you are, who you will become. You're responsible for the actions you take and the way you interact with the world around you.
Sure, maybe you're ready for the frat parties and the football games, but are you ready for the day you put in all the work in Biology, you go to class every day, you go to every lab, you do all the readings and you still get an F on your exam and it's no one's fault but your own?
Are you ready for the first time your car doesn't start and you're 30 minutes from campus and you have class in 45 minutes? Are you ready to wake up and go to class even though you've had a cold for three weeks and you're exhausted but you have a quiz, an exam, and an extra lecture to go to because you can't afford to miss them? Are you ready to make friends only to have them leave you?
Are you ready to wrestle with who you are? And who you will become? But more importantly what you want to be and most importantly who you want to be?
Most days I'm not. Most days the majority of my friends are not. 95% of the time it would be easier to give up. But then something beautiful happens. Something like you tell your best friend you're sick and she responds by meeting you outside the next class you have with tea and cold medicine.
Because it's not all bad. Are you ready to have your friends be your family? Have you thought about the fact that sometimes they'll need you more than you can give them but you love them so much you try your best to give it to them anyway? Or that sometimes your best memories won't come from the hype of sporting events or parties but from movie and game nights.
Are you ready to eat food that is good, but not great? Are you ready to put in the time so that you're benefiting the future you? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to get the grades you need to keep going, to get a degree?
One day, you'll get to a point where you realize that you were never really "ready," and you'll never really be "ready." It will occur to you that the world isn't waiting for you. College isn't the hardest thing you'll ever do, but it will feel like it while you're doing it. So maybe you're ready for it, but I know that there are a million things I've done since being in college that I wasn't ready for. That there is nothing you can really do to be ready. That all you can really do is to know you're not ready so that when you're first real character-shaking event happens you don't crumble. And as hard as it may be, enjoy it. It goes by really fast.
The junior with the tear stained face who was eating bacon.