This morning my oldest daughter started at university. She’s staying at home so I drove her in. I had hoped that the journey would be a calm relaxed opportunity for me to casually and lovingly impart some pearls of wisdom to guide her throughout the next 3 years (or at least the day) but in actual fact we weren’t entirely certain we’d put the right campus in the satnav so I spent most of it panicking that we were going the wrong way, and she spent most of it complaining that the sun was too bright to do her makeup. When we eventually arrived she turned to me, her face etched with fear and said “Mum – I can’t do this”. My loving encouragement? My words of affirmation? “Get out of the car and get on with it – you’re going to be late”.
So this is for Hannah, in a perfect world here are some of the things that I might have said…
Smile. However anxious you might be about meeting new people just smile. If somebody smiles at you, reciprocate. If somebody walks in a room, smile to welcome them. A smile is a wordless hello. A smile says you’re open to being friends, that you’re nice, that you’re positive.
Be bold. However hard it might be to strike up a conversation with a stranger just put your big girl pants on and do it. They may be more scared about today than you are. Christopher Robin was not wrong when he said “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.
Be adventurous. Be open to new opportunities – all those societies; faith, food, film, feminism and lots of others that don’t begin with an f. Have some fun, see what’s out there. Do something new and meet people that you might never have come across otherwise. This is your chance to find things you love.
Remember you’re paying for it! Turn up to lectures and make use of the resources. This is costing you £9250 a year. It’s not mine or dad’s debt – this one is all yours – don’t waste a penny of it!
Know your worth. Make as many friends as you can, cultivate them and treasure them, but if anyone treats you (or others) like you’re worthless drop them. Don’t let someone else’s toxicity permeate your self esteem. Find friends who will be loyal, reliable, and trustworthy, and don’t compromise your own integrity to fit in with those that aren’t.
Rest. Pace yourself. It’s fun, exciting, sometimes scary and stressful. Sometimes you’ll feel like you have to keep going just to accomplish whatever it is you have to do. Sometimes you’ll be anxious. A proper meal, a warm bath, an early night – never underestimate the power of these things.
Don’t worry about it. Your qualification at the end of this will not be what defines you. Your kindness, your sense of humour, your fierce loyalty and your enduring love for Sebastian Stan do. You have already come through so much just to get here today, you are enough, we love you, we’re proud of you and it’s all going to work out just fine.
Now, get out of the car and get on with it, you’re going to be late xx