College Orientation: A Letter to My Daughter As You Embark on the Next Step of Your Life's Journey by Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
I just got back from a beautiful 24 hours with you in Milwaukee. Together, we attended your college orientation, and I could not have been more proud of the strong young woman you have become.
I watched you register for classes. I’ll never forget the joy on your face when you chose four studio art courses. You’ve never had the “luxury” of just being able to focus on your art. This semester at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, you will be immersed in that which brings you joy. You will be challenged artistically like never before, but you will express your creativity in various forms of media and explore and develop your process. I am so happy for you.
It hasn’t been a easy journey to get to this place. There have been roads you thought you were taking, from which you ended up retreating. There have been anxious times when we didn’t know the right path, and nothing felt quite right. You have done a lot of soul searching (and world searching) to find the right place for you. I hope and I believe, in my heart, that you have found it.
That’s not to say that everything will come easily for you. You may have occasional doubts and still have your challenges. But I am hopeful that these will be good challenges; the kind that help you grow and evolve. You will learn and adapt and become even more resilient. You will understand how the beauty of what you create also can help you launch a career. You will find like-minded people with whom you can collaborate. I am so excited for you.
In the last 24 hours, we explored your new neighborhood, we ate (too much) sushi, we shopped, stocked, cleaned and organized your apartment, we worked pretty hard and then we relaxed and watched a fun Disney movie, "Coco." Disney has been a big part of our life, and watching Pixar films is probably one of our favorite things to do together. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be working at Disney animating films!
In a sea of memorable moments together from this trip, I think my favorite one may have been on the way back from Target. Dark Horse by Katy Perry came on my Pandora station and we cranked it through the car’s speakers. Katy Perry was your first-ever real concert. I took you and your sister, Cassie, to see Katy live when you were only 15. We had such a great time that night. Maybe that’s why in the car on the way back from shopping, we looked at each other and almost simultaneously started head-bobbing in sync. Then, singing. Then, seat-dancing. We were in rare form, Jules. It was a moment of pure magic (“So you wanna play with magic? Boy, you should know what you’re falling for...”).
After working together to organize your place, your new home-away-from-home looks fantastic. It’s a haven for you to focus on school, and your health and happiness. When you invited me to stay over, I felt so special. I can’t remember the last time we had an uninterrupted 24 hours together. I got to see so many sides of you – the fun, the playful, the generous, the intelligent, the creative, the serious, the determined, the shy, the worried, the excited, the hopeful. And so much more. I love the whole you.
It was among the best times we’ve spent together. I was filled with joy and yet, when I dropped you off for day two of your orientation, after parents were dismissed, I had a lump in my throat and more than a few tears in my eyes. As you got out of the car, I tried to coax a smile by making a bad mom joke (“Play nice with the others!”), which you didn’t find funny. But then as you walked away, I called to you: “I’m glad you’re wearing the elephant bracelets I brought you from Thailand. They’ll bring you good luck!” That’s when you smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Jules, you melted my heart. As I watched you walk into the building, the tears flowed. I am so proud of you.
You’ll always be my baby, but today, you are well on your way to becoming the empowered young woman I see in you (not unlike Katy Perry). Thanks for picking me to be your mom. I am blessed and I am grateful. Now, go show them what you can do. I believe in you, 100 percent. You’ve got this. You really do!
I love you,