Graduation Friday: May 3rd, 2013

Dear 18-year-old self,

Welcome to college. It’s quite a big place, ay? Deep breath,here we go.

Can I tell you something? It is not that scary. Cherish it.It’ll go faster than you can even imagine. These four years will teach you moreabout yourself and the world around you. Don’t think that all the learningtakes place in the classroom.

Go out and experience things. Leave your books in your room,go meet some people. When Mariah invites you to that awkward dance because she’sin the organization putting it on...GO! Go to the meeting the following week; go to the meetingalone. When they ask you to be in charge, kick ass at it. The people that comein and out of this meeting room will forever change who you are. This groupmakes college worth it.

Always carry a pencil and notepad. Don’t be afraid to bethat girl who knows the answer or has something to say. It is totally the “cool”thing to be the smart girl. Oh and stop saying the “cool” thing...It’s notcool. Being the smart girl is the greatest thing you will do for yourself.Library Girl is the best nickname you will ever get in your life. Don’t fightit. Embrace it. (Oh and learn your student ID number...You’ll need it all the time.)

Don’t pretend to love things that others do. Don’t be afraidto share who you are with the world. They will love you just as much as you do.This is the place where acceptance happens. Those ridiculous people you met onthe first day of Orientation? Love them. The amazing people you meet in thesefour years are your people.
 For years you’ve dreamed of things: traveling the worldbeing number 1. Start freaking doing it. When Kaitlin walks into Spanish freshman year andtells you in two summer she’s going to England on some Literary Tour with some professor you've never even met. Go with her! It will be the best experienceof your life. No joke. Make sure you pack band-aids and an extra camera battery.(You forget them...it is less than awesome.)

Junior year will suck. It sucks for everyone. You are, by nomeans, alone. Keep studying. I know, I know, it is awful and zero fun but,Haley, you’re In Honoribus graduating self will thank you. When you get anopportunity to take a nap... take one. Okay, and don’t tell anyone this, but,um, you might actually want to read the chapters your professor assigns. Butsometimes, like when you’ve got three tests and a paper that week, SparkNotes istotally appropriate.

When you make it senior year, you've made it; stop  keep going.This year is one of celebration. Stop worrying about not knowing what you aredoing with your life. You’re 21...You have plenty of time to figure it out.Just don’t forget to do what you love. That is all that matters. Oh and keepdrinking tea and keep reading Harry. You’re Harry-Potter-obsession comes inhandy.

Graduation day is tomorrow. The big day. Finally. Your gown is steamed. Yourdress is pressed. Shoes have been selected. (Go with the Mint, girl, please!)The only thing left is to walk across a stage and get that damn diploma and take on the world. 

 This place will change your life; allow it to.

Much love,
Yours xx

 PS If my words of wisdom seem less than to you...listen to these women. I think they know what they are talking about...

(Sheryl Sandberg to an "enthusiastic" group of women on their college graduation)

You are the promise for a more equal world. So my hope for everyone here is that after you walk across this stage, after you get your diploma, after you go out tonight and celebrate hard--you then will lean way in to your career. You will find something you love doing and you will do it with gusto. Find the right career for you and go all the way to the top.

As you walk off this stage today, you start your adult life. Start out by aiming high. Try--and try hard.

Like everyone here, I have great hopes for the members of the graduating class. I hope you find true meaning, contentment, and passion in your life. I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you--yes, you--have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it. Women all around the world are counting on you.

So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren't afraid? And then go do it.

(J.K Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard circa 2008)

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