A Love Letter for the College Students
I’ve been there.
Books piled up in a stack beside you. Nodding off to the glow of the computer screen. Neon strips of highlighter scraped across your forehead, leftover not from a raging highlighter party the night before but rather the all-nighter spent spooning Shakespeare term papers and mind-rattling interpretations of Samuel Beckett’s best works.
Some of you are halfway. Knees sunk deep in the muds of history power points and audio projects. Stammering in the mirror before you give that final speech in class tomorrow. Still muddling through the differences between el and usted. Nosotros & Vosotros.
Some of you are stocking up on caffeine fixes and 5-Hour Energy drinks before the storm hits. A storm of finals worth 60% of your grade. 12-pagers that will have you crawling into the light of the morning, turning your study guide into a white flag to wave and surrender.
You’ll make it.
I know it. I can promise that there are holiday lights at the end of your tunnel. Perhaps it won’t be the grace of a love letter but the grace you’ll gain from the sound of the last book shutting. The sound of the last pages shuffling out from the printer and into your professor’s mailbox.
Remember to breathe. To eat. To sleep, if you can. Curl up on the couch in the campus center if that’s what it takes. Listen to the Nutcracker while you sip a gingerbread latte that you so deserve. And, on the nights where 1am comes quicker than shoppers to Best Buy on Black Friday, be the one to text your friends, “Diner. 2am. I’ll drive.”
I still keep that memory.
Unearth it as I do the ornaments that get pulled down from the attic this time of year. Uncrumpling the newspaper surrounding that time that I didn’t know I’d ever miss. A stack of pancakes. An open laptop. Hot chocolate with whipped cream dribbling from the side. All of us laughing, not knowing at the time that yes, yes, we were going to miss it one day soon.
It’s hard to believe right now as you struggle to swallow every prefix in the dictionary or every literary term you’ll need to dissect that Emily D. poem tomorrow. But the closeness of friends in one place, the justified seeing of the sun coming up before you close a book and allow in the hired sugarplums to dance as you pass out, the 24/7 sweatpants apparel for at least two weeks… you’ll miss it when it is gone.
So pick your chin up from the computer. Stand up and stretch. Take a break to call your friend and see how studying is going. If there is someone beside you, smile… propose a coffee break… treat them.
String up holiday lights in your dorm room lounge and claim that a study executed at 800 universities across the country proved that the ambiance of the teeny tiny bulbs increased final grades by a whopping 73% percent.
Ball up in a blanket and quote Elf from time to time when the room gets too quiet. A few go-to quotes: “Santa?! I know him!” “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad…” “First we’ll make snow angels for a two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.” Take a Target break. Buy some holiday slippers for no good reason. Drive home the long way and just admire the lights for a moment or two.
Remember: It is a book. It is a test. It is a paper. That’s it. That’s all.
You’ll make it. Myself, this love letter, and anyone who has ever been there before…we are pulling for you.