Dear Mom and Dad,

It’s hard to believe that it has been four years since you drove me to college, unpacked the truck full of unnecessary Bed, Bath, & Beyond purchases, carried them up three flights of stairs into my tiny dorm room that was a thousand degrees at the end of August, and left me to an experience that would change my life forever.

It has been extremely hard for me to talk about graduating. I think for a variety of different reasons. For the last few weeks I am pretty sure I have felt every single emotion possible. Anxiety, fear, sadness, but also, gratitude, relief, and excitement. I feel a mix of emotions because change is not my strong suit. As much as I love it, I hate it.

When I am asked how it feels to be graduating, I simply say, “I’m ready, but I’m not.”

No, it may not make sense, but to me, that’s all I can conjure up in my head. So, for now, I am not going to talk about how I feel to be a graduated college student, but instead, I am going to try to explain how much these past for years have meant to me.

I first want to say thank you. I simply don’t say it enough.

Thank you for providing me with every opportunity possible to follow my dreams. No matter what decisions I make, everything I do, whether you agree with it or not, you have supported.

College is a time to learn. Yes, we learn what our professors teach us, but it is what we learn about ourselves outside of the classroom that really makes all the difference.

What I have learned during my time in college will be carried with me throughout my entire life. No, I probably will not remember all of the constellations we studied in Astronomy, and yes, I already forgot most of that European history I learned my freshman year. But I believe it isn’t exactly the courses we take that really earn us our degree. That degree wouldn’t mean much, at least it wouldn’t mean much to me, if it didn’t have all of the experiences associated with it.

Thank you for teaching me that there is more to life than what you think you know. One thing you have always shown me is that there is so much to see and do in the world, so I should never close my mind to anything, anyone, anywhere. Because of that, I was fortunate enough to go to school hours away from home, make friends who live all across the country, study abroad meeting people from all across the world, study a variety of subjects in school, and be open to a world outside of my own. You have watched me switch majors, add minors, join organizations, start organizations, travel the world, and so much more. But what you probably didn’t realize, or didn’t think about, is that I was doing it because of you.

You privileged me with four years away at a college that provided me every tool I will need to be successful. To me, success isn’t measured by income or position titles. Success is measured by one’s own self. I have learned, in the past four years that personal success often leads to those materialistic successes that most people long for. However, once achieved, the materialistic successes don't mean as much, rather, the ability to be confident in ones own abilities is the real definition of success.

I would also like to thank you for loving me unconditionally, no matter how many mistakes I make (and I have made A LOT). This one is most important to me. You can’t possibly know how much your love keeps me going. I have been through quite a lot in these past four years, most of which you don’t even know about. There are moments where I feel the world is crashing down around me, but the one thing that keeps it all together is you. Mom and Dad. For what seems like the simplest of reasons. Because you love me.

All of those times I called you, randomly, just to check in, there was always a reason. There was always something going on with me, and all I needed from you, was an outlet. You were my outlet. I could be having the worst day of my life, and calling you to hear about everything that was going on at home, made everything at school seem so distant. I didn’t tell you what was on my mind because that was not the point. I didn’t need another person to feel sorry for me, or to give me advice, I just needed a friend. I needed my parents.

Everything you did for me these past four years, no matter how big or how small, is what got me to this point today. Without you, I most definitely would not have made it this far.

What I want you to know is that all of my successes, all of my accomplishments, every award I have received, everything that I have done, it is ALL are owed to you. It is yours as much as it is mine. Because truth be told, they would not have happened without you.

And while everything that I have done is thanks to you, I hope you also know that it is all for you too. I hope that I have made you proud. I hope that after everything is said and done, regardless of the GPA I receive, regardless of the awards I may or may not accept, regardless of the jobs or scholarships I may or may not be offered, I hope that you will be proud of me. When I say I do it all for you, I mean that in every way possible. You have done absolutely everything you can for me to live a life one can only dream of, and I hope that my accomplishments will someday be enough to thank you. To show you that even when it didn’t seem like it, everything you did for me, was all worth it.

No, I can’t tell you where I will be in five or ten years. Hell, I can’t even tell you where I will be tomorrow. But one thing I know for sure, is that I will be okay. I will be fine no matter where I go, no matter what I do. I am so very grateful to have such incredible, empowering, compassionate, and driven parents to look up to.

You lead me through 21 years of life, full of ups and downs, laughter and tears, anxieties and comforts, and you never once complained. You never once showed signs of being overwhelmed. You never gave up on me. And because of that, I will never give up either.

Mom and Dad - you gave me everything you had, and now I have the degree to prove it.

I Love You, Forever & Always,

Your Baby-Girl