This past June my little sister graduated from high school and that made me feel really old. This is a letter that I wrote to my sister, but the message is one that I feel everyone needs to hear.



I can’t believe you’re going to college. I feel like it was just yesterday that you were crawling around the house and soaking up all the attention (you still do). I haven’t been home this summer as much as I would have liked and there’s a lot I want to tell you before you go off to school, but I’ll keep this letter short and sweet.

Going away to college is an experience that will change you, and this change is good.

 Change is how you grow.

You’ll meet new people and make new friends. You’ll be away from mom and dad and you’ll have to do your own laundry (bummer). You’ll learn so much and you’ll try new things.

In college, everything is new and sometimes that can be scary. I can guarantee that there will be times when you’ll feel vulnerable. There will be times when you’ll miss home and feel alone. There will be times when you’ll struggle with your identity. Just know that everyone experiences these feelings; it’s normal. Because of the unfamiliar and uncertain nature of going away to college, it’s the perfect place to foster change.


College is a place where you’ll forge an identity that will carry over into adulthood.

College is going to change you. But I hope that you stay the same. You know I love oxymorons and I know this doesn’t make sense, but soon it will.


You are without a doubt the most caring, empathetic, intelligent, and outgoing person that I know. You’re a natural born leader; you understand how to make others work together. You have an uncanny ability to make others feel included and you have a strong moral compass. You understand how to see the good in people and you know how to bring it out.

In college, you’ll change. You’ll make new friends, have new interests, go new places and learn new things. Hey, you may even get a new haircut or change the way you dress. But for all of the superficial (and some deeper) change that will inevitably take place, just remember one thing.

Remember what really makes you, you.

Remember who you are now.

Remember how to care for others. Remember not to judge others because you never know what they’re going through. Remember how good it feels like to help someone else and to make a difference.


You know how much I love quotes so here’s a personal favorite:

“Leave every place better than you found it.”

Inky Johnson

Danielle, I know you’re going to change, but at your core, I hope you stay the same. Keep leaving each and every place better than you found it.



IG: @joearinaldi


P.S. – I’ll be saving that sign for all of your major life events (e.g. college graduation , wedding, etc.)… you’ve been warned.

20170623-Danielles WHS Graduation-D4S_3237

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  4. Thank you for this! I’m 10 years older than my little sister, and I just got home from dropping her off at college (UofA). This letter sums everything up that I wanted to say to her, but couldn’t find the words. 💗 I might just have to use your words as inspiration to write her a letter. Xoxo.

    Again, thank you for sharing. 💙

    1. Aw you’re so welcome! I think that you should write her a letter and yes – feel free to use these words as inspiration!

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