Dear 17-year-old Caitlin,

It’s me, well you, 10 years from now. I know you have heard this before, but you are about to embark on the greatest journey of your life. College. But before we can do this, we have to cross that stage and become a Walton Raider alumna. Whoopee! My only advice is to be careful with the stairs. They can trip us up from time to time.

WHS 2006 Graduation

The next 10 years are going to be some of the best years of your life as well as the most challenging. We come out on the other end as a stronger woman than when we left the hallowed halls of Walton. So here is my advice to survive what’s coming down the road:

Say yes to adventures.

College is a time to explore and find yourself. Try to break out of your comfort zone a little … I promise it’s worth it. Do not miss a single opportunity to have fun.

I’d only skip the spring break trip to New Orleans your sophomore year, it’s not worth it. I promise you’ll get another opportunity to explore NOLA.

Be yourself.

You are pretty awesome. The sooner you learn it the better. It took us a long time to figure it out, but once we learned that lesson life become more enjoyable.

Watch out for boys who don’t treat you well.

You get to date, no worries. There will be some great guys and there will be some not-so-great guys. Avoid the not-so-great guys. Listen to your family and friends and get out of those relationships. Stand up for yourself, and know they aren’t the right guy for you.

Know that it’s completely okay to be a hermit.

You are a textbook-definition of an extroverted introvert. Don’t worry what all the haters say; be proud of your introverted self! But do go out on occasion with your friends, because those are the nights you’ll remember after you graduate college — not the ones with your nose buried in a book.

Go to football games (all of them) and don’t skip class.

I know I don’t have to tell you this, but just making sure that base is covered! You meet some of your favorite people in your college and graduate classes, and football Saturdays in Tuscaloosa are the greatest thing on this planet. Roll Tide! Study before hand and go tailgate on the quad.

Know that the best is yet to come.

You’re going to fall in love, get your heart broken, travel, change your mind about a dozen times about what you want to do after you graduate, and sometimes feel so lost you want to give up (go to Mom at that point … she has the right answers). There will be so many good times in the years to come, and we will get through it and it will all be worth it. I promise.

Love,
27-year-old Caitlin