Dear Mom and Dad,

An open letter to my biggest role models as I prepare to leave for college across the country

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Dear Mom and Dad,

by Kendall Lanier, Lifestyles Editor

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Dear Mom and Dad,

I know I won’t ever be able to find the words to truly show how thankful I am for you both, but I will try. I will start by saying how completely lost I will feel when I go to college miles away from you guys across the country. Not just because I will have to do my own laundry and will be missing out on your gourmet meals, but because I will be losing a part of myself. You do all the basic tasks that a parent is expected to do, like provide for me, make sure I am okay and give me access to several opportunities. But, you are more than the average parents who just do what they are supposed to do.

Mom, everywhere I go, someone tells me how much alike we are. How we laugh, talk and how we carry ourselves. I love being like you. Hearing that is one of my favorite compliments because I know how amazing you are, so it makes me feel like I could one day be just like you. I know it sounds cliche but you have always been the perfect role model for me. In my eyes you can do no wrong. You have taught me that happiness comes from within and you cannot rely on anyone else for it. You are so graceful and carry yourself with such confidence which I will always admire.

Dad, since day one I was always told I look just like you. I used to get so mad because I didn’t want to look like a boy. But over time, I have learned to enjoy hearing that. Whenever I am not with you, people always recognize me. I am always hit with the classic “Are you Willie’s daughter, you look just like him.” Everyone loves you for always being yourself and making them laugh, so when people see me, they think of all the great traits you possess. If people could possibly think of me that way — I’d want nothing more. Your big smile and loud laugh is what we share the most. I’ve learned my happy, sense of humor from you and to always put my best foot forward.

These outstanding qualities of you both lead me to to say, who will I be without hearing people tell me these things everywhere I go? I am a part of you guys and you guys are a part of me. I don’t know who I am without your influence. Your confidence, kind heart and resilience shines through me each day. I don’t know how I will be able to show those characteristics without you both by my side.

I guess that is a part of growing up. I have been with you for 18 years and have done what I am told (well, most of the time) so much so I have become a stem of you. Growing up means learning to be who I am without the guidance of you as my role models every step of the way. Shaping the way I am going to be for the rest of my life and building my own legacy is solely up to me. While this is one of the scariest parts about going away next year, it is also the most exciting. Finding out who I will become after years of you building me up to be something great, can be so riveting. This is it. I am stepping out into the real world, where I will be faced with many challenges and will have to deal with them somewhat on my own.

Because of you two, I have been given the best childhood. Of course we were faced with challenges like any other family, but it was about how we moved on and overcame them. It made me realize how blessed I truly am to have parents that love me in every way possible.

Leaving you will be the hardest part of my life so far. But, I owe it to you both, my inspiring  parents to say that you have prepared me enough to be the person I was raised to be on my own. And although you will not be by my side every second, I know you will always be in my heart.