Prayer, Creativity & Faith

20 Life Lessons: Tips for My College Freshman’s New Life


Bobby is not our first child to go to college. His sisters attended several colleges, in fact, plus lived in a few different apartments. Moving, our kids starting something new—been there, done that. Taking Bobby to Nashville (5.5 hours away) is no big deal, right? Seriously, he is talented and smart and likable and will do great.

And yet there’s this part of me that worries—not about him, exactly. I guess my fears say more about my own insecurities than my confidence in him. Did I do enough? Did I prepare him well? Did I let him figure things out for himself or did I get in the way? I want to spend every waking moment telling him all the things I want him to know, but the reality is, I’m pretty sure he already knows all of it.

When a parent has to take a step back and let their children grow up, it’s one of the biggest leaps of faith we’ll ever take. Truthfully, we never had complete control over any part of their lives, but it felt like we had more control then than we do now. After almost 19 years of leading, I’m about to put my trust in God like never before. This child—young adult—who means the world to me is about to do things his way. Face life on his own terms. Become who he wants to be. I have to hope that he really does understand how valuable he is and how much I love him. But I also know I have very little say in his decisions moving forward.

That being said, I can’t help myself. There are still a few things I want to say. Life lessons that will pave the way for opportunities and kindness and acceptance and fulfillment. So, Bobby, bear with me while I post my thoughts for the whole world to see. And know that, no matter what, I love you.

  1. One of the most mature, grown-up things you can do is ask for help. It’s not being weak; it’s wisdom to know when you don’t know how to do something, or need help getting it done, and it will save time in the long run.
  2. Prop open the door to your dorm room and say hi to people. Make yourself available to be a friend. No matter how confident everyone else seems, they might be shy and insecure inside, and you might be just the person they’re hoping to find.
  3. Having a variety of different friends will enrich your life in ways nothing else can. Embrace differences.
  4. Don’t look for what separates you from others, but pay attention to what you have in common.
  5. Don’t hide behind your phone. Look up and look people in the eye.
  6. Include other people in your selfies.
  7. Take care of yourself. Eat. Take your medicines. Sleep.
  8. Seriously, sleep.
  9. When you’re stressed, don’t just close in. Instead, do something that relaxes you. Go for a drive. Walk around that beautiful campus. Play music. Treat yourself to a good meal. Hang out with a friend you enjoy. Watch a movie that makes you laugh. (Maybe throw in a load of laundry. Clean sheets make everything better.)
  10. Maybe, occasionally, possibly, once in a while, perhaps you could consider the idea of not procrastinating on all of your school work. When I was in college, I claimed I worked best under pressure. Years later, I realized that having to perform and having no margin for error actually made me feel more stressed. Find the balance that works for you. Don’t be a victim of stress you created for yourself.
  11. Be generous—with your time, your attention, your resources, your acceptance, your talent.
  12. Be nice. Keep holding doors for people. They love that. I love that.
  13. Be you. Realize that the best, most amazing parts of you have already been placed inside you by God, and if you ask, He will continue to develop those talents and abilities and characteristics. Nobody else can be you as well as you can, and you weren’t made to be like anyone else. Embrace that.
  14. Remember that although you’re from one of the most sarcastic families ever, sarcasm isn’t everyone’s love language and isn’t always the best approach.
  15. Try something new. You might fail miserably—but you also might soar and find new passions. It’s worth the risk. Failure is not the end. It’s worse to never have tried what you want to do.
  16. Leave your room. Find other people who love some of the same things you do.
  17. If something matters to you, pursue it—whether that’s a career path, an opportunity to get involved, a relationship that is difficult but important to you. Great opportunities will not often come to you; you have to go after them. You’re capable. Go for it.
  18. Figure out your faith. I know you believe, but now it’s time to figure out how to live it. How to listen for God. How to trust Him. How to ask for direction and ask for help. How to pray. How to worship. How to serve. Because the really cool thing is that God will speak to you in a unique way, based on the personality He gave you. He will lead you to interesting and fulfilling ways to serve Him, based on who you are. God will show you parts of Himself that you’ve never seen, and maybe sides of Himself that I’ve never seen either, and He will love you better than anyone else ever could. Including your mom.
  19. Speaking of moms… call your mama. Even if you don’t miss her, she probably misses you. A lot.
  20. Be patient with your parents. If they offer to help—or even if they hover—it’s because they care. If they seem impatient with you, it’s because they know you can do better. If they push you to do things, it’s because they believe you’re capable. If they cry, it’s because of the pollen in the air from all the beautiful flowers all over campus. Surely it’s not embarrassing emotions; must be allergies.

One Response to “20 Life Lessons: Tips for My College Freshman’s New Life”

  1. Michele says:

    Kelly, yes to 1-20 Life Lessons. I am praying for you, friend and praying for Bobby too. Love you.

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