For Anna. My beautiful, smart, carefree baby sister. I know you know a lot of this, but I wanted to remind you. I thought about sending you a letter, but I realized it won't get home in time and you'll already be at school.
Everyone says college is the most fun four years you will ever have in your life. Yeah, it's pretty fun. Mom and Dad pay for your meals while you "find yourself" and try to make it to all of your classes. You'll make lasting friendships, find a couple of boyfriends, and drink cheap beer. It really is the life, but you have to take advantage of this precious time.
Take school seriously.
Just go to class. It really is hard to fail if you go to all of you classes. OK, skipping a few 8 am's or two won't hurt because those are a construct of the Devil himself, but more than that and you'll stress yourself. Feeling behind is the worst. I promise the stress isn't worth it.
Take a couple fun classes.
I think I learned more life lessons from my "extra" classes than I did the classes I took for my major. Take women's self defense, pottery, anthropology of sex. Whatever peaks your interest. The "extras" will give you personality points down the line in a future conversation with a boy at a dimly lit bar over artisan cocktails. More importantly they will stretch your mind and make you think about things. Maybe important things.
Be one of the guys, but don't drink like them.
You and I both see eye to eye on this one. We like to hang with the guys "drama free" (jokes on us, boys cause way more drama than girls). It's cool to be the easy-going friend who can get in deep conversations with any guy, but freshman boys are freshman boys and they don't know their limits. Never be the girl with eyes glazed and has to be carried home. But if you do, make sure your ride is sober and don't be afraid to call someone to pick you up. I really would fly to Birmingham if you needed me, but try Lily first.
On the topic of guys.
You may have a boyfriend, or two, or three, in college. They probably won't be "the one." Don't forget to remind yourself that. You'll be 21 when you graduate. You can't be expected to find your soulmate having only legally been able to drink for three months.
Don't ever be afraid to say "no."
You don't owe anyone anything, no matter what you're wearing, what you said before, how much you drink, or how much older he is. Even if you just wanted to make out a little, you can still say "no" at any point. You always call the shots. Period.
Dress how you want.
I made it a point in college to call out every girl (in a bi-weekly printed column!) who dressed the same. But just like I "did what I wanted" and wore tutus and sequined pants to class, so can everyone else. If you want to sport the Nike shorts and XXL Comfort Colors tee, by all means do it. It's hot as hell in Tuscaloosa and I wouldn't blame you. But don't be afraid to rock your own look. You are queen of all things boho-chic and you look good in it. Keep it up.
Not everything. That's not a good excuse to do dangerous or illegal activities. Try every club and every campus event. A bunch of them will be boring or sound lame, but it's worth it. Not only will you have things to add to your resume (see: very, very important after you graduate) but you will also meet great, wonderful, unique people you would normally not hang out with.
Don't use a fake.
You will get caught, it will go on your record, and dad will pay a fine. No fun.
Even in a stereotypical southern state school like UA, there are boatloads of people looking for answers outside the box. These people will do big things and you need to listen to them. I learned more from my peers than I did teachers. Listen to outspoken classmates with contrasting opinions. You may not agree, but his/her feelings are valid and you still need to listen. Listen when you think you should argue. It's much better to hear all sides before coming out with a conclusion of you own.
Never wear heels on Gameday
It's not worth it. Ever. You will fall over and your feet will bleed.
Good luck with moving in and rush next week. I miss you and love you more.
xoxo and rtr,