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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Some loving advice as cousins prepare for college

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Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or perhaps I’m just feeling overly emotional, but I have been overwhelmed with excitement, worry and fear lately.

These flurries of emotions can be attributed to the fact that I have three cousins whom I am very close to going away to college this fall. OMG!

I’ve had other younger cousins go to college in the past, but this time it’s different…maybe it’s the triple whammy that’s having such an effect on me, I’m not sure. But this time around, I feel more anxious. Perhaps it is because I know what lies ahead: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve always tried to be the older cousin who was accessible to the younger kids, the one who others could come to if they needed help, a listening ear, or simply wanted to hang out.

In my quest to be this “accessible” cousin, a busy career, a time-restricted social life, and other obligations have resulted in me falling short of my goal sometimes, but my intentions were always good. Whether I was spending time with my cousins physically or simply communicating via phone or text messaging (their preferred method of communication), I have always tried to properly guide them along the way. It’s not uncommon for me to randomly tell my cousins and the teens I mentor what I call quick life lessons.

For instance, if we’re driving down the street and happen to see someone who is obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol, rather than ignore that person or degrade him, I’ll tell my cousins the bad choices that person made that probably led to his current state. I like to call such instances interactive learning.

Nevertheless, as the days rapidly go by and their imminent departure to college nears, I find myself wondering if I’ve given them enough life lessons to sustain them while on their own. Have I done enough? I imagine this is a question parents ask themselves relative to their own children.

In an attempt to prevent any gray hairs from sprouting out of my head or suffering from some sort of an anxiety attack, I’ve had to remind myself that not only is learning gradual, but it can also be permanent if done consistently.

My efforts and those of my cousins’ parents and support systems have been consistent throughout their lives, so that brings me some form of peace. I also find peace in knowing that they are God’s children and thus protected.

So, rather than trying to cram a bunch of knowledge and life lessons in their brains over the next couple of months, I find myself evolving into the woman that my mother was and saying things that she said to me – things that not only proved true, but also resonated with me years later.

To my cousins, in the words of my mother, I say to you:

Go to college, work hard and enjoy yourself. These will truly be the best years of your life. You’ll meet people from all over the country and world who will become your lifelong friends. The years you are about to embark on will give you the best of both worlds: you have an element of freedom, independence and responsibility; yet you’re not too grown that you can’t depend on me.

You’ll encounter some challenges, but work hard to overcome them. You’ll make mistakes, but as long as you learn from them, the result is always positive. You may experience love, but always love yourself more. Be a person unafraid to stand up for a good cause. Always be of good moral standards and integrity. Remember to treat others the way you want to be treated. Never compromise yourself or your values. Prioritize, study hard and have fun!

I love you guys and am so proud of who you are, what you’ve accomplished and where your lives are headed. Remember…the best is yet to come!

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