(This piece was originally published on Grown & Flown)
“College is the best time of your life,” my daughter hears as she prepares to leave home.
“Does she love it?” my friends ask of me at the holiday break, nodding their heads up and down.
Daily she’s bombarded with images on Instagram and Snapchat that paint a picture of “the perfect” college experience happening at every college campus across the country.
Those are big expectations to live up to for an 18 year old leaving home for the first time, living with complete strangers packed three to a room made for two, managing schoolwork and activities and all the while navigating a whole new social scene.
Some days she may love it, others she may hate it and most days it’s just somewhere in between.
Just like life.
As I look at the date on the calendar it’s hard to believe that in less than a month my daughter will be done with her freshman year.
I’ve learned to be mindful of the expectations I set for my kids as they head off on their own. I remind them that things on social media aren’t what they seem. I try not to take their pulse daily as they navigate the ups and downs of the teenage years.
I tell my daughter that her whole college experience is like a painting. At the end she will get to step back and see the beauty and perhaps the flaws, but it will be her own creation.
Freshman year can be messy my love. Take the paint, make it your own, and paint from your heart. It may not be a masterpiece but just like you, your painting will be one of a kind.