Advice to College Freshmen and Other People Traveling in a New Direction

Well, friends, it’s finally here. My first little bird is more or less flying the coop. He’s heading to a little island in the middle of the world’s largest ocean to study something and continue his passion in running.

Do you ever have those experiences where you've been sitting with a friend all afternoon and it’s in the last 10 minutes that you find yourself with so much to say and no more time?

I’m feeling like that right now . . . Wait, did we talk about this? Did I tell him my thoughts on this? Should I warn him about this? I have to pray that most of the core of what I’ve wanted to share with him I have already. It may not have been through my actual words, but through what he has watched me and his dad and all of the loved ones in his life do over the years.

(And if any of you think your kids or grandkids aren’t watching or “don’t get it,” please remember that little ones are the best observers of all.)

I did manage to come up with a few things I want to make sure he understands, and while they are written to Big Boy, I’d like very much to share them with you as well . . .

Chase what you love to do.

I have always loved writing, but it took getting an internship second semester of my senior year in college for me to realize I could actually make money doing something I love (not a lot, but enough). When I hear what a lot of young people are studying these days, I absolutely see their passions peeking through. And I see that in you, too. Let others catch your enthusiasm for what you love—that’s how world changers are born.

Say “yes” to positive (and different) opportunities.

Even college students get stuck on their “comfortable couch” and are reluctant to venture out beyond that. Venture out. You will have many opportunities knock at your door over the next several years—don’t be afraid to welcome them in.

Follow up. Always.

To a text. To a letter. To a phone call. To an invitation. If you say you are going to be somewhere, be there. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you’ve “been meaning to call or text that person” or “send your mama a note,” don’t just think about it. I will tell you, if you can learn this now, you will be so far ahead of most of the world. And as you journey through life, you will see that this world is filled with people who “meant to do stuff” but didn’t.

Choose carefully who you follow.

I include this because, while you are certainly a leader, there is also a time to follow. When I first decided that I was going to follow Jesus, it actually made my life easier, because it gave me a measuring stick for everything else I hoped to accomplish. If what I wanted to do didn’t fit into what Jesus would do or His teachings, then I figured it wasn’t for me.

Jesus was driven by love and compassion for the people around him, even when he was not loved by those same people. Such a worthy goal to seek after, and I’m certainly still working on it (as I’m sure you would tell me).

You will have professors you disagree with, most likely. That’s okay. They may deserve your respect while you are in their classroom, but you don’t need to follow their ethics or standards because they are “the authority.” And same goes for your classmates. You may enjoy hanging out with them and challenging each other with those discussions that I can never quite keep up with, but if they don’t hold to your same values and core beliefs, you do not need to follow them.

Surround yourself with people who are stronger, smarter, and kinder than you.

You already know that to run a faster race, you need to be around faster people. This is true for pretty much anything you want to accomplish. You have been surrounded by a home that has loved you and supported your dreams for 18-ish years. You now need to go build your own nest of support.

Build it wisely. Build it with care and thought. Protect your heart while you are at it. And always know we (and your whole tribe who have been following along with you) are here to continue to love and support you in every way—and any way—we can.

Set sail!

And off he goes (they ALL go) to conquer the world . . . 

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