This letter was inspired by a recent initiative posted by my alma mater Ohio University in their Ohio Today magazine.
Welcome to your new ‘hOUme away from home.’
I hope you’ve remembered to pack a few absolutely-positively essential dorm supplies — paper towels? cleaning wipes? tissues? — along with your fabulous new room accessories and your favorite keepsakes boxed up and shipped from your other home.
As you become acquainted with the robust squirrels on the Greens (seriously, they’re everywhere) and the immeasurable freedom to do-as-you-please here in the first few weeks, I hope you remember all of the passed-down advice from us old and graduated Bobcats, who spent 4 years (or so) loving our little slice of Athens.
Try to be a morning person every morning.
Get work done on the days you don’t have class until 3 p.m. Run to the gym, or take a hike on the Ridges. Meet someone for coffee — any local coffee-shop will do. Take control of your own semester’s destiny by taking advantage of every hour, even those before noon.
If you’re not feeling it, move on. Join a different club. Don’t pledge to that sorority. Take a different class. Consider changing majors. Make time and space to hear your own self speak, and then listen to what s/he has to say. Don’t settle for anything less than the best you have to offer this world.
Revel in the here and now.
College years will come and go for you, dear Bobcat. So embrace every moment that you have with friends right across the street, or down the hall, or a 2-minute drive away. Go to that speaker who sounds interesting. Attend a concert or musical performance that tickles your fancy. All of us here in big cities or small towns miss the incredible energy of waking up in Athens every day, being only a 15-minute walk away from anything and everything. Remember, you won’t be here forever.
Try and fail, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Experiment. Try a few things you’ve never done before. Mess up. Make mistakes. Embrace failure. Don’t give in to fear or shame. College, done well, is an incubator of the ideas you thought you were, all the while creating the person you were meant to be.
But learn to laugh at yourself, dear Bobcat. You won’t know everything right away — and no one expects you to. You’ll figure it out, just like we’re all still figuring it out. So have a little fun, make a little laughter, just breathe, and know that everyone around you is in the same boat as you.
On the graduation stage, it’s the friends and the memories and a degree you’re proud of that matters.
Remember where you’ve come from, but never lose sight of all that you can achieve.
I believe in you, Bobcat.