Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time
Dear Mom and Dad,
I bet you’re surprised to be reading this, huh? It’s not all that often that kids (especially us twenty-somethings) sit down and tell you how we feel. But, if there’s one thing we hopelessly dysfunctional twenty-somethings know how to do, it’s be surprising. So here it is. An open letter where I get to say all the things I probably wouldn’t in conversation.
First of all, some thanks are in order.
Thanks for driving hours upon hours for college visits, reading all my college application essays and paying the application fees. Thanks for helping me pick a college. Thanks for pointing me toward my dream school even when it took me longer to realize it. Thanks for taking me dorm shopping. Thank you for helping me pack all my stuff even though I’m sure it was hard to watch me literally pack up my life and be so excited to leave home (and, indirectly, you). Thanks for driving me to college and helping me unpack all that stuff.
But most of all, thanks for letting me go. I know it must have been difficult. I’m your little girl, after all. Your only little girl. It would have been so easy for you to lay down the law and insist I stay at home if you were going to help pay for school. But you didn’t. You insisted instead that I go somewhere else, that I live in a dorm, that I embrace every aspect of going away to college. I know it must have been hard to walk away and leave me alone in my dorm room in a strange town over a hundred miles from the only home I’d ever known. Because guess what, it was a little hard for me too. Don’t get me wrong, I love college and all it has to offer, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel that familiar pang every time I watch you drive away.
Thank you for listening to my stories and not getting mad when I slip up and call my dorm and this new place “home.” Thanks for putting up with my angsty, teen self when I came home for the summer after my freshman year. Thank you for not getting too fed up with my crankiness and restlessness when I was missing my college friends and college freedom. Thank you for loving me unconditionally even during those times when you probably didn’t like me all that much (it’s okay, I wouldn’t have liked me at all, so the fact that you put up with it means you deserve a medal). Thank you for guiding me and teaching me everything from cookie baking to the art of writing a thank-you note. Thanks for a million other things, both small and large. Thanks for being my parents.
Now it’s time for me to let you in on a little secret. Guess what? Your strong, independent, confident, stubborn daughter is a little scared. No, not like monster-in-the-dark scared. Underneath all that strength and independence and stubbornness, I’m a little freaked out about the future. Don’t worry, I’m about as well-adjusted as a college kid can be, but I have my moments, my freak outs, my times of absolute, complete uncertainty. I fear failure. I fear not accomplishing my dreams. I fear not living my life. But don’t all of us twenty-somethings feel that way? I’ll figure it out, I know I will. But that doesn’t stop the tiny bit of fear from creeping up on me in the late, dark hours of the night. But, I know that it will all be ok, especially when I call you on the phone and rant and worry and all you have to do is listen, tell me you’re proud of me and that you love me. That does the trick every time.
And now it’s time for some apologies. I’m sorry for those times when I get cranky. I’m sorry for all those times when I can’t help but give in to that typical young adult, me-against-the-world angst. I’m sorry for all the times I forgot to empty the dishwasher or fold the clothes. I’m sorry for all those times when I blow the little things totally out of proportion and it feels like World War III has descended upon our house. Remember how I said us twenty-somethings didn’t do feelings? Sometimes it all just comes exploding out to the surface, whether I mean it to or not. I’m sorry for taking things too seriously or too personally. I’m sorry for getting mad when you tell me to do things because I think I’m too old for it. This is the first time any of us have had to deal with me going off to college, but we’ll figure it out together. Because I really do love you and respect you and I really do hate it when we fight. (Again, thanks for putting up with me. I can’t stress that enough.)
But most of all, thank you for being parents. Thank you for always doing what you thought was best for me. Thank you for being wise enough to realize that kids don’t want their parents to act like their friends, but instead act like parents. Thank you for wanting to spend time with me and actively raising me instead of letting a babysitter do it. Thank you for raising me to always respect myself, never take no for an answer and never be afraid to stand up for myself or what I believe in. Thank you for always believing I could be anything I wanted from author to astronaut to lawyer. And when I finally settled on journalism, thank you for supporting me instead of telling me I was wasting my time on a low-paying career.
Thank you for playing dress-up and coloring and coming to sports games and piano recitals. I know that any time, no matter where I am, the second I put out the distress call, you’ll be in the car on the way to help me before I can even hang up the phone. Thank you for listening and thank you for advice-giving. Thank you being the two people I admire most in this world. Thank you for being my twin pillars of strength and morals and grace and unwavering faith. Thank you for being the people I wanted to mimic (you didn’t think all my strength and stubbornness and confidence and independence came out of nowhere, did you?)
There’s so much more I could say. But I’ll end it with this. As I get older, I realize more and more every day how totally awesome and cool and wise and loving and generally fantastic you guys are. I don’t know a whole lot about life, but you guys seem to have a pretty good one, so if I end up like my parents, well, I’ll be more than happy.
Your Twenty-Something Daughter