To Katie Green: Be Free
If your name isn’t Katie Green, you can stop reading this. But even If it’s not, I’d like for you to stick around. In academic terms, yet another summer has come and gone. A new school year is nearly upon us. This year is different for my family.
For the first time, my parents will be “empty nesters.” I’ll be returning to Northwestern Oklahoma State University for my junior year of college. My sister Katie will be leaving for Oklahoma State University to start a collegiate career of her own.
Hers will undoubtedly last longer than mine. She has lofty goals of becoming a neurosurgeon. That’ll take eons of schooling. But she can do it. Of late, I’ve realized just how little time we have until the next chapters of our lives begin.
That goes not only for my sister and me, but thousands of other young people across the world. On a grander scale, the quick passage of this summer has brought into focus the fact that we take time for granted. Individual days may seem to drag on, but in hindsight, they’re not long enough. As I reflect on these last 18 years of my life – the years my sister has graced my presence – I have few regrets.
But I do wish I’d said a few things to my sister more often than I did. Today, I’m going to say them. And I’ll do this with the hope that you, too, will think about what you say to the people around you as you go through your days.
A LETTER TO KATIE
Sis, the time has come for you to embark upon one of life’s greatest journeys: college. Congratulations. You’re on your way to freedom, independence and a whole lot more studying than you bargained for. (You’ll figure that out after your first round of exams.)
Jokes aside, I want you to know something. Lots of somethings. As you further your education, I hope you know how proud I am of you. Your academic excellence is stellar.
You were our school’s salutatorian, and you worked hard to complete concurrent coursework. All the while, you served as the high school drum major, leading a talented ensemble toward musical magnificence. These were not easy tasks – nor were they simply given to you.
You fought for them, and you invested yourself in them.
You are better off for your dedication, and so are the people who are lucky enough to be around you. As you prepare to leave home, I hope you know that Mom, Dad and I will never be too far away.
I want you to be set free; I do. Living on your own – whether in a dorm room or an apartment – is an exhilarating yet frightening experience. I hope you relish in your time alone. But when alone time turns into loneliness, I hope you know where you can always park your car and get a home-cooked meal.
You’ll undoubtedly have nights where you want to laugh or cry. Maybe both. College is stressful. Your schedule will be inordinately busy. If you need someone to talk to, I’m just a phone call away.
As you meet new people, I hope you spend your time with people who both compliment and complement you. You’re worthy of all the kind words in the world, in my opinion. Associate with people who will facilitate your studies and indulge in fun with you.
People who reassure you in times of doubt and give you faith in times of despair. These people may become your friends. I hope you remember, too, that friends sometimes become family. Don’t be afraid to open up your heart to those around you. Use your discretion, though.
You are a gem, and there will be people who are envious not only of your successes, but also of your gifts. Let not anyone near you who will make you feel unworthy of only the greatest treasures in life. You deserve happiness. Let not drama or conflict rule your day or your heart.
And I know you won’t.
As you go face battles that seem insurmountable, which you will, I hope you know that I believe in you. Even though I am the senior sibling, I have always had a child-like faith in you.
Yes, you’re going to make mistakes as you wander down life’s pathway. You’re reading the work of a master mistake-maker. You’ll not always choose the right course of action, and sometimes, you’ll give your best effort to something, only to learn it wasn’t enough.
Though the first errs are sometimes inevitable, avoid making them twice. Lord knows you’re stubborn, but you’re growing wiser. And you’ll recover from whatever hardships you endure and grow from them. And as you go about your days – whether good or bad, happy or sad – I hope you know this: I love you.
I wish I’d said it more in the last 18 years. Like many siblings, we fought like cats and dogs. But I’ve always loved you like the grass loves the rain, the sun loves the sky and God loves every person he ever designed.
Especially you, one of his most magnificent creations.
Take care, Sis. You’ve got this.
Your Bub, Jordan
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