In the mid-sixties, Dr. Charlie Shedd began writing letters giving advice to his daughter who was away at college. Those letters became famous and were organized into a best selling book, called “Letters to Karen.”
Having pretty much lived her whole life under my roof, my daughter Caitlyn is now in college at Steven F. Austin University. Right this moment, she is preparing for her first day of classes that start in the morning. She is planning out her week as she settles into her Hall 14 dorm room.
Keep the tradition of Dr. Shedd, I plan to pen a handwritten letter to her weekly. Here’s a copy of my first letter for you to enjoy.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
My Dearest Caitlyn,
By the time you receive this first letter, you will have enjoyed the first couple days of your college life. I loved college and you will have a blast meeting new friends and learning new concepts.
College was one of my happiest times. I enjoyed being on my own, eating cafeteria food, hanging out with friends, and receiving mail–which we would now call “snail mail”. There is nothing more exciting than checking your PO box and seeing a letter from home. (Even if it is from your dear old Dad.)
To aid in the latter, I will pen you a letter each week with a theme starting with this one.
Your Greatest Life Long Friends are Waiting to Meet You
Do you know what Greg, Brandy, Ali, Judy, Lee, Staci, Kathy, Tony and Karen all have in common? All but one were life long friends I met in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship my freshman year. Yes, you are going to college to get an advanced education, but the people you meet over the next nine months could be life long friends and even spouses (but more on that in next week’s letter).
You are at a critical moment in life where picking friends will determine a significate part of your success. Friends will craft who you will become, and ultimately who you will probably marry. With so much on the line, you would think we would plan our friendships a little more carefully. As it turns out, we pretty much roll the dice and just let it happen without a thought.
You Become the People You Hang Out With
So with that said, perhaps it would be wise to pick good friends. So let’s study this process closely. What do we want in the perfect “close” friend or bestie?
- People who loves God and are Christian.
- People happy with life and without a lot of emotional baggage.
- People going places with long term goals.
- People with great study and work habits.
- People who are encouraging at least 80% of the time and not self-centered.
- People with common interests and are fun to be around.
I challenge you to write out your list of the qualities of life long friends. Maybe for the first couple weeks, you post it on your mirror as a reminder of the qualities you want to exhibit, but also what you are looking for in new friends.
Where Do I Find Good Friends?
1. Get Involved in Clubs or Groups.
The best part of being in college is you have time to get involved in different people groups. More so than any other time of your life. For me, I joined Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. There are hundreds of groups on your college campus. Find one that fits you and join it.
2. Make Good People Decisions Every Moment of Every Day.
You are going to be presented with 100s of opportunities each day in college. It’s Sunday night… “Hey Caitlyn, let’s go learn how to country dance at this new club tonight?” vs. “Hey Caitlyn, we’re having a test study party followed by a Harry Potter movie.” Small tweaks lead to big peaks. Who you really are is based on tiny little decisions you make every day.
3. Keep Your Eyes Open, and Take Risks.
Its the beginning of school. It’s totally ok to make new friends. You grab your tray at lunch and see someone sitting alone. GO SIT BY THEM. Say, “Hi.” Meet some new people, don’t just sit with who you know. Be open to new friendship all the time. To have friends, you have to be open and be friendly.
4. Don’t Judge People Initially.
Greg Midkiff, my first roommate in college is not someone I would have ever thought I would enjoy being friends with. While you want to find the right kind of friends, don’t prejudge anybody. Take some time and get to know them. That said, do an audit and gravitate toward people who were on your list.
5. Not Everyone Needs to Be Your “Closest” Friend.
I have a handful of close friends, followed by hundreds of acquaintances. Granted, some of those “acquaintances” might call me a “close friend.” However, I am picky about who I spend the most time with. In your friendship pursuit, do an occasional audit and ask yourself, “Does this friend make me a better person? Do I feel energized or drained when this person leaves?”
I love you very much! I know you will pick good friends. Your friendship to others will help change the world. I look forward to hearing all about them.