Be good to her, Auburn.

As I’m tossing my cap, there’s a sweet eighteen year old girl pulling up wide eyed and ready to put her dorm room together. Dreaming of four of the best years of her life. Ready to kiss her parents goodbye and start living. I can’t help but think of myself not only in 2012 as a freshman, but also in 2017 as a 23 year old headed back to school for a masters degree. I think about all that Auburn has done for me, and I’m getting teary thinking about what the next girl is going to experience here.

Be good to her, Auburn. Break her down and build her up like you did me. Teach her about doing her own laundry and a late night Cookout run. Let her pour out so much love that her heart feels broken most of the time. But give her the people to fill her cup back up.

Teach her to hold onto the friends who have dance parties on a Tuesday and will show up ten minutes after her first breakup to lay on the floor and cry with her. Give her a coffee shop and a breakfast spot that never disappoints and a specific spot in her bedroom that feels so cozy she could stay there and never leave. Show her glimpses of Heaven. Show her glimpses of adulthood but then do something crazy to remind her she’s still young.

Give her some really, really good days. Specifically give her the day that she realizes she made the right choice in choosing Auburn. A day when everything goes right and she knows God is smiling down on her. The breeze blows perfectly and all feels calm in the world. She will realize in that moment that she truly is living in “the Auburn bubble” and it’s the best place in the world to be.

Give her that culminating moment when she realizes God is alive and not just something she’s read about her whole life. A moment when religion becomes FAITH and she understands that it’s about so much more than Sunday School and the eleven o’clock service.

Teach her how to spot the bad guys and to pray for the one who she’ll marry one day. Give her someone who will tell her that she won’t meet her husband in Sky Bar….and let her be that person for someone else. Give her bad grades and good grades and nights she chooses to study instead of go out. But give her a few good nights that she won’t regret when she’s struggling just a little in her 8 AM the next day.

Give her the self confidence to know that she is exactly who she is supposed to be and to walk away from anything or anyone who doesn’t love her just the way she is. Tell her she doesn’t have to flaunt it all. But be understanding when it takes a while to figure that out.

Give her some grace when she cries over a boy who everyone told her is not worth her time. She probably saw the good in him, and he probably had her tricked pretty good. It happens to all of us. Love her extra hard after that. She’ll need it.

Help her figure out what is next. Give her a passion for something so deep that she has no problem accepting her dream job on the spot. Give her the confidence to move wherever in the world she wants to go- and give her TONS of people to tell her not to let anyone or anything hold her back. Remind her daily. Don’t let her forget it.

Auburn….be as great as to her as you have been to me. Become a second home and a place that will permanently hold a large part of her heart. Become something so dear that as she’s packing up her apartment before graduation she just can’t imagine life after leaving.

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