The Dorm Diaries: A Letter to the Class of 2019

Monday, August 31, 2015

To the Class of 2019:

I have so many words for you - so many hopes and dreams for you. You stand at the beginning of four years. The best four years, you've been told, of your life. By now you've heard it all: the advice and warnings and anecdotes from parents, adults, and those who have walked this path before you. You've been told to study hard, to call your mom, do your laundry, go to church, don't do drugs, and to avoid parties. And after a while, it all blurs together in your mind and you start nodding politely, thinking, "I already know this; I've already been told this."

I'm here to tell you something a little different. I stand here as a senior, at the end of this college journey with three years of joy, heartache, experience, loss, love, and conversion behind me. And I have four things to tell you, Class of 2019. Four rules, if you will, for these next four years of your life. The first two are simple, and if you've seen Kenneth Branagh's film Cinderella, you already know them:

1. Have courage
2. Be kind. 

Right now, you might be feeling intimidated - you're a new place, surrounded by new people, with your first year stretching out in front of you and you have no idea what will happen. But have courage. You will make it, you'll find friends, and you will grow. Jesus is the source of courage, so never be afraid to ask Him for some. All things are possible in Christ!

Secondly, be kind. You will encounter people who disagree with you, who hold different opinions, who might challenge you. No matter what, be kind. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to belong. To be loved. As a Catholic, people will look first and foremost at how you live out your faith. So treat everyone around you with kindness, just as you want to be treated. Years from now, you will be remembered, not because of your grades, but how you treated others. 

3. Don't be afraid of failure. 
I've learned firsthand that by trying not to fail, when I inevitably did, there was always an overwhelming sense of I'm not good enough. I couldn't keep it together. Something's wrong with me. 

But guess what? You will experience failure at some point in your life.


I know it's hard, I know it's painful and embarrassing. But I need you to breathe those words in and believe them. Even more importantly, sometimes it's not always your fault. Sometimes life just throws a really nasty pitch at you...and sometimes things go bottom up.

I will fail. And it is okay. Because I am human. I am not perfect. 

Because we all fail at one point or another. You are never alone in that.

Failure teaches us how to stand back up after falling. Failure is what allows us to rebuild ourselves into something better, stronger. Failure is what teaches us humility. Because if there's one thing we need as young people, it's a reminder of humility. We like to feel invincible and passionate and on top of the world; but sometimes, we need a reminder that there's a bigger picture, that we are not the center of the world. God is.

Failure is what teaches us that when no one and nothing else is there for us, God always is. Because to Him, you are never a failure. 

4. Remember that God loves you, no matter what. 
There will be times when you feel far away from Him - distant, detached, alone. There might be times when you'll be sitting in these very pews, exhausted feeling like you have nothing to offer God because you're just trying to hang on and survive the semester.

Switchfoot sings, "I was lost but not alone," and I think that sums up college perfectly. We're all trying to find who we are, find our way - find The Way, The Truth, and the Light - and sometimes it feels like we get lost along the way. But we're never alone. You're never alone. 

You have some amazing opportunities in college - to ask and search for answers, to deepen your knowledge and your mind, to receive the sacraments daily, to join a bible study, to discuss the intersection of faith and reality in our modern day world, to serve alongside your fellow students in ministry, to explore different interests, and to experience this new community around you.

To live and breathe the Body of Christ that is here around you and within you. Supporting you and lifting you up in prayer. 

Someone once said, "Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be okay." It something I've needed to hear again and again, and something you'll need to hear each year in college.

So I say it to you now, no matter what happens this semester (good or bad), this first year, or at any point during these next four years in college:

 Not to spoil the ending for you...but everything is going to be okay.


  1. Thank you.

    Thank you for these honest words of encouragement and wisdom. Thank you for how you point this adventure of life to the meaning of life, Jesus and God's Kingdom! Thank you for lifting up my heart as I, a freshman in college, start these four roller-coaster years of change, challenges, and chances.

    Thank you, Grace. Thank you.

  2. Thank you so much for this, Grace! I'll be with the Class of 2020, but I'm already so nervous about going away from home next year.Reading this helped me and I added it to favorites to read whenever I need it. Also, Cinderella is one of my favorite movies, so the fact that two of the rules are from it makes what you wrote twice as good! :) God bless!