For My Little Sister as She Starts her First Year of College

Dear little sister,

You moved into college this week. When mom and dad sent me the pictures, I’ll admit that I totally cried. You look so old. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that my baby sister is old enough to be in college and living on her own. I’m so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished up to this point, and I can’t wait to see the incredible person you’ll become on your college journey.

College gave me some of the best years of my life. I was ridiculous and silly and adventurous and I poured my all into those four years. And I have the best friends and the greatest memories from that time. College also gave me some of the hardest challenges I would face in my life. It was the first time I put a name to my anxiety and some of the lowest years of my mental health journey. But I wouldn’t have traded my journey for anything. And it’s crazy to think you’re standing on the precipice of your own adventure of college teaching you who you are meant to be in this life.

You have so much to offer the world, and you’ve only just begun. I could spend everyday shouting from the rooftops about how proud I am of you and my voice would never tire. You deserve the world, my love, and I can’t wait to see you go out and grasp it.

I was thinking about how to write this letter, but then it hit me that there’s something you love almost more than you love words and reading: music. You understand the power and magnificence in melody and song. No wonder you’re pursuing music therapy to use your talents to help the world. So in honor of your musical gifts and passions, I thought I’d leave you a little playlist for the beginning of your college journey. Just a few songs that got me through tough times, made me laugh during the highs, and just generally reminded me of all the strength inside my soul.

You have that same strength, my darling. A fierceness to take on anything you encounter and the compassion to make sure every person you see feels seen and loved. So if you end up needing a pick-me-up, or maybe you even start to miss your big sister, here are a few things that I’d say deserve a listen.

Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart

“A year from now, we’ll all be gone, all our friends will move away…”

This song got me through high school, college, and now. It’s about change. It’s about letting go of the old to make space for the new. It’s not about forgetting. It’s about embracing. College is new and exciting. Life is going to look different for a while. Enjoy it.

White Flag by Joseph

I’ve played you this one before. Essentially it’s my badass women empowerment song. There are going to be times where things get hard. You’re going to want to give up on classes, on friendships, on yourself. Don’t. Burn the white flag. You got this.

Carried Me With You by Brandi Carlile

Our song. No matter how far I am from you, I’ll carry you with me always. Don’t you forget it.

Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus

Listen. Miley Cyrus may be a bit before your time, but this song will never go out of style. Whether you’re tailgating and knocking back a cheap beer or making up dances to this in your dorm room (I have in fact done both of these things), you just need to put your hands up, play your song, and let the butterflies fly away.

You Are Enough by Sleeping At Last

College will ask a lot of you. You’re going to feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes it’s pressure to keep up academically, other times its pressure to change who you are to fit in with the world you think you should be a part of. You’re enough exactly as you are. You don’t need to be anything more or less than the wonderful person you are.

Try Everything by Shakira

Be brave. Be bold. Try new things. Honestly, this is what college is all about. People think it’s about class… nah, it’s about trying new things and having adventures. (Okay plus a little bit of class stuff.)

Be Kind to Yourself by Andrew Peterson

“I love you just the way that you are, I love the way He’s shaping your heart. Be kind to yourself.”

Give yourself grace in your highs and your lows. Your journey is your own. Be kind to your heart when your heart needs to feel a little love too.

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

This song has a lot of meaning for you already. It was your show choir ballad so there are already memories attached here. Use this as a way of remembering where you’ve been and all the amazing places you’re going.

I’ve No More … To Give by Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq.

I’ll admit, this one comes with a major expletive warning. In fact many of them. But you know what, sometimes you need a release. And sometimes you’re going to feel like you really do have no more f@#&s to give. Insert shrug emoji.

Turning Out by AJR

You will always be discovering who you are. It’s okay to feel like you’re still turning out.

Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon

Another bop. Sometimes in college, you just really need a bop. And since I don’t know what is going to be popular over the next four years, I encourage you to use a favorite bop from my college years.

You Matter to Me from Waitress

I sang it to you years ago when I was in college. Still rings true today. “You matter to me, simple and plain, and not much to ask from somebody.”

Not Lonely, Just Alone by Chloe Gillian

This is my friendly reminder that you don’t need a partner to succeed. Trust me, people start pairing up at the beginning of college. You in no way have to do the same thing. You can be alone, it’s totally okay.

Brand New by Ben Rector

A classic. But really great at inspiring you to get up every morning. Sometimes you just need that tune that makes you super happy to be alive.

You’ll Be in My Heart from Tarzan

“... from this day on, now and forevermore.”

No One is Alone from Into the Woods

You’re never alone my darling. If you ever need a reminder of that, you let me know.

Have it All by Jason Mraz

This one is almost self-explanatory. I want you to have it all. I want you to have joy and love and laughter and excitement. I want you to have every incredible experience.

Beyond these actual songs, there are a few more things I want to run through the never-ending playlist of your mind. So promise me that when you speak to your soul, you try to only use words of love and positivity. Treat yourself to kindness. Play the sounds of laughter and friendship and maybe cleansing tears now and again. Keep gratitude on repeat, and don’t be afraid to shuffle things up.

I love you so much. I believe in you and I can't wait to see where this journey takes you.

So plug in your headphones, put your game face on, and get ready to take your first steps as the amazing collegiate woman you are.

Love you always,


P.S. If you want access to the full playlist on Spotify, go ahead and click here.

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