To the students at the middle or the end of their college search,

Breathe it in. This is the time of your life. “But wait!” you say. “This is not the time of my life. This is the time of stressful tests, not enough freedom, and looming change.” That may be so, but, before you complain for too long, realize this is a unique stage in your life where, for once, it is all about you.

Conversations about college, graduation, and potential careers may become redundant, but they place you in the seat of the sun. Feel this and enjoy it, but don’t let it get to your head. When you visit colleges, it’s ok to feel like the prince or princess you are. Enjoy the t-shirts and pens as well as your parents’ concerned love. It’s ok to be the center of attention for a time. However, this time must have its limit.

When you reach the limit of how much attention you can stand do not shy away and do not become snippy. When you can’t handle that same question one more time, write a thank you note. It is in this moment that you have the opportunity to pour the overflow of attention you are receiving out to another. In order to do this, start by stopping.

This is the best time of your life to pause and reflect. Reflect on the experiences you’ve had and who made them possible. Reflect on the fun times and best friends who shaped your childhood. Most importantly, reflect on those who love you and are near. They need your attention the most.

Now that your memory is in action, take an action. Whether they live in your home or you haven’t spoken to them in years, write a thank you note. Whether they shaped your career path or shared their pretzels at lunch, write a thank you note.

The purpose of this is simple but simply not to make your to-do list longer. It is not about you, and it is not even about them. At this point in your life, writing a thank you note sets a precedent of gratitude for the years to come. This journey you are on can be draining and easily consumes your attention. Before you get lost, look back and then look forward with gratitude in your heart and attention to share.

Written by: Abbie Russell (’21)