An Open Letter to My Stepdad

An Open Letter to My Stepdad

All the things I want to say to you — honestly.
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Dear David:

First of all, I want to say I love you. I don’t feel like I ever say it enough.


It’s taken me a while to get to where I am today, and I have to thank you for most of it. A Stepdad was never a thing I thought I’d have – I had become so used to the idea of one Dad and one Mom, that any other relationship seemed inconceivable. As a seven-year-old, it didn’t really feel like I had a say in anything, including you – which, let’s face it, I didn’t. I must have thought you coming into our lives would weaken the close bond I’d formed with my Mom, and I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t realize then that a Stepdad would make our family complete and make my Mom happy, but then again, I had probably bought into that whole Cinderella-Mean-Step-parent trope that I had associated with you.

That was the biggest mistake I think I’ve ever made, and one of my deepest regrets.

Because even though you may be stern – okay, let’s be honest, VERY stern – that doesn’t mean you’re horrible, like the Step-parent stereotype implies. You’re probably one of the kindest men I know. You didn’t HAVE to become a part of what seemed like a broken family – a single Mom and her tiny, neurotic daughter. You didn’t have to put in the effort and time and love to build a wonderful life for us, but you did. It takes a kind man to do all of that.

You’re intimidating, but in a good way. I wasn’t used to that personality; Mom is definitely very different. You really tried to be that dominating, responsible father figure that our family needed – which isn’t to say you tried to replace my Dad, but you were there for me in ways my Dad couldn’t at the time. I think, deep down, I harbored anger against you, because it felt like you were trying to be a physical replacement for him. Only with distance can I see you’ve only ever wanted the best for me and for my Mom and sister.

I think we’re the closest to a father/daughter relationship you can get. You’re the one who texts me when I’m spending too much money, being frivolous with responsibility when I need to shape up, and to remind me to respond to Mom’s texts and to yours (and I admit, I do try to avoid owning up to my faults, especially over text). You’ve almost single-handedly financed every weird medical and dental and dermatological and psychological issue I’ve dealt with since you married my Mom (and I’m sure now you look back on that money and think, wow, that could have helped with some other things), but you did that so I could be as healthy as possible. You also wouldn’t believe me when I wanted to skip school for being sick, because unless I was throwing up, then I could make it to class (and this is where I’d go crying to Mom, instead). You’re also the one who begrudgingly pays my rent each month, even though I’m (technically) an adult because you want me to focus on school and have a roof over my head. You’re the one who buys me printer ink when I’m low, pays the phone bill and doesn’t kill me when I go over the month’s data, lets me use his Amazon Prime account to ship things to my house, and moves all the heavy things around my house because I didn’t have a chance to inherit some muscle-building genes from you. You’re the one who is quietly judging the guys I date when you meet them, because you’re the ultimate deciding factor on who is worthy of being a part of my life. You’re the one who gets exasperated when I’m – well – exasperating. I’m pretty sure that’s the textbook Dad stuff.

Honestly, the more time that passes, the more I hate that prefix “Step”, as if you’re only a little responsible for my upbringing, when you’re an integral part of who I am today. Maybe in a few years I’ll still be technologically challenged and have to call you up to answer a simple tech question, or have to ask you the password for the Netflix account (because I’m still part of the family, even after I graduate college, and therefore get streaming privilegesright?), but I hope that no matter where life takes me, that you’ll always know how much I really appreciate you. You’ve supported me even when I was being an asshole ‘stepchild’, because, to you, I wasn’t a stepdaughter – I was your daughter, through and through.

You’ve loved me unconditionally, and for that, I will forever be thankful. I don’t think I can ever make up for the mistakes I’ve made in the past, for any shitty comment I’ve said to you or for any mistake I will make in the future, but I hope that from this point forward, I will remind you as often as possible how much you mean to me.

Thank you for being my Dad, sans-Step.

Your loving daughter,

Megan

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10 Reasons Friendships Change From High School To College

Friendships change as we grow up.
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High school and college are totally different yet similar in many ways. They are formative years that develop who we are as people. During these years, friendships come and go. The friendships in college, however, are very different from the ones we had in high school.

1. High school friendships can be mostly surface level.

The age differences between high school and college students account for a lot of the differences friendships face in these time periods. Those 14-18 years old face issues that are very different from those 18-22 years old face. In high school, it's all about who looks good, who is dating who and the gossip going around. Most friendships are surface level and don't necessarily delve into the deeper things in life such as faith and politics. College, however, is a whole different ballpark. Faith, politics, and money make up many of the problems students face. College friends typically dive deeper into intellectual conversations and belief far more than high school friends. This allows the young adults to build deeper friendships than those they have experienced before.

2. College friends spend more time together.

It's no surprise that college students spend a majority of their time around other college students. Whether it be studying, eating or just hanging out, college kids hang out all the time. Even at home, college friends live together quite often and hang out just around the house. In high school, kids hang out at school on a daily basis and during their extracurricular activities. They even hang out on the weekends, if their parents allowed it. Since most college students are on their own for the first time, their friends become their family and they spend as much time as they possibly can together.

3. High school friends know your entire extended family.

We all want to be around our friends as much as possible. In high school, we hang out at school, after school, and on the weekends. We try to invite them wherever we go, including on family gatherings. Our friends learn the names of our parents, our siblings, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and anyone else that happens to be around during these times. In college, it's rare to meet the families of our friends unless they come to visit at school. We may learn about our friends' family through pictures and stories, but we don't get to experience them in person nearly as much as we did in high school.

4. College friends see each other cry on a regular basis.

In high school, it's seen as weak to cry. Most high school friends never see each other shed a tear, much less cry for hours on end. College is a whole different story though. I've seen my friends cry over homework and movies as much as I've seen them cry over boys. College friends even see each other drunk cry over nothing at all. Tears and sadness, anger and frustration are common in college and these emotions bond college students together in a way that high school students couldn't understand.

5. In high school, friendships are based on proximity.

In high school, we spend every day surrounded by the same people. We go from class to class five days a week spending time with the same peers and teachers. We don't have to look too far from our normal schedule to find our friends. In college, our day-to-day schedule is rarely ever the same. We have classes, work, studying and so much else going on that it's hard to find friends. We have to go out of our way to meet new people and build friendships.

6. Summertime includes more trips because college friends come from all over.

A college or university is comprised of a myriad of different students. These students come from many states and many countries around the world. This gives college students a chance to travel to new places as they go to visit their friends during academic breaks. High school students all live in the same area and usually don't have to travel more than 25 minutes to each other's homes. New experiences allow friendships to grow and thrive, and in this case, traveling is a great way to do so.

7. Lots of goodbyes occur at a high school graduation.

A high school graduation is the last time many people see each other in their lives. For example, my graduating class was over 600 students. I've seen maybe 10-15 of those people since graduating three years ago. Therefore, many friendships have ceased to exist over the years. In college, however, an effort is required to maintain a friendship in the first place. Therefore, graduation isn't filled with nearly as many goodbyes because college friends maintain their connection after walking across the stage.

8. College friendships can begin in bars.

College bars can be where many friendships begin. Loud music, dancing, and alcohol can help people loosen up and converse in ways they normally wouldn't. Shared experiences and memories can form the basis of a friendship, and bars are a wonderful place to make memories. In high school, most students aren't old enough to get into a bar, let alone drink. While high school students may share other experiences that begin their friendships, those experiences won't be in bars.

9. High school places a lot of limitations on friendships.

With their young age, high school students are usually restricted on what they can do. Their parents and their age places limitations on how late they can be out and what they can do. College students stay up all hours of the night together whereas high school students generally cannot do that. High school students also can't go out all night because they always have early classes during the week. High school students get to experience a lot of things together, however, not nearly as much as college students.

10. College friendships require a lot of effort.

High school friendships can be maintained by talking and spending time together at school five days a week. College friendships, though, require constant effort. Friends in college have to communicate and plan in order to spend time together. They have to make an effort to schedule time for each other and work through problems as they arise. College students face stress in basically every aspect of their life so the effort required to maintain a friendship is well worth it in the long run.

Cover Image Credit: Sam Manns

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