Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dear Young College Student

I decided to participate in Brittany Gibbons "August Write Your Face Off" challenge.  This is my first attempt at responding to one of her prompts... So, here goes:
What would you tell a young girl going off to college for the first time?

So, so many things.  College was a completely new era for me.  New beginnings.  New city.  New life without the trappings of constant family obligation and guilt.  I absolutely loved college and the opportunity it afforded me to simultaneously learn about myself and the world.  Best time of my life.

That being said, I would say first – Use this time wisely.  This is an opportunity for you to spend time solely on yourself.  No kids (hopefully). No husband (hopefully). Just you.  This new freedom is amazing and intoxicating, but don’t let yourself get completely drunk on it.  Use this time to learn your limits and know yourself.

You will be given what you might initially think is free money.  It’s not.  You WILL have to pay it back, and then some (credit cards are no joke, yo).  But it is important to at least TRY to be a smidge responsible – otherwise you will regret it later.  Trust me. 

Be safe.  Be aware.  Be fierce.  Be fabulous.  Most people know the statistics.  One in four women is a survivor of sexual assault or rape.  Do yourself a favor and take a self-defense class.  Or two.  There are classes offered nearly everywhere and if there isn’t one in your area or at your college, search YouTube or get a book on Amazon.  Or contact me.  Seriously.  Do it.  I will help you find something that works for you.  The simplest piece of advice I can give you right now is trust your gut and be aware of your surroundings.  If something feels weird; if someone is standing too close to you on the elevator for no reason; if your spidey senses are twitchy; remove yourself from the situation.  Immediately – or as quickly as possible.  It may be a touch embarrassing, but it just might save your life.

If you are one of these women, a SURVIVOR, I have something to tell you: IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.  Were you walking to your car late at night? Not your fault.  Were you wearing a mini skirt and a halter top with the girls on full display?  Still not your fault.  Were you forced by your boyfriend, whom you’d had sex with previously?  Still not your fault.  Were you drunk?  Still not your fault.  Did you say no and then, eventually, just let it happen because he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer?  Still not your fault.  Did you walk naked down the middle of the street in broad daylight? STILL. NOT. YOUR. FUCKING. FAULT.  Keep telling yourself that and surrounding yourself with people who will tell you the same thing until you 100%, right down to the ground, without reservation, believe it.  It was not your fault.  Believe it.

So, long story short, college is a wonderful opportunity for you to explore yourself, the world at large and the knowledge it contains.  It is a gift.  Try not to take it for granted and try to use it wisely.  You will mess up.  You will make some epic mistakes.  But you will learn.  And, hopefully, look back fondly on this formative time in your life – as I do.  Congratulations and good luck!

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