I was beyond prepared to graduate high school, overly ready to leave and start anew at the college of my dreams, but what I was not ready for was the awkward, in-between stage after graduation.

Once I walked across that stage, I quickly found myself in a summer unlike the ones of the past. For once, I was not going to head back to high school in the fall, slip into a routine consisting of 9 class periods a day, and carry on as I did for the past four years; this fall I was going to a brand new school, alone, and embarking on a journey with an unpaved path.

But I’ve learned some things during this weird time in my life.

1.) Graduation is just another day that goes by fast

One second you’re sitting in a classroom, the next you’re in a sea of caps and gowns. Suddenly the 3 am breakdowns while studying physics or those pop quizzes you failed, don't matter— because you’ve made it. You made it to the ultimate goal of high school, the pinnacle of your educational career thus far. So enjoy your valedictorian’s speech and your principal’s final remarks, because before you know it, you’re tossing up your caps with one hand, diploma in the other, officially a high school graduate.

2. I may never see some of the people I graduated with again

It’s dawning on me more with every Snapchat story and Instagram post from my fellow graduates, that I may never see some of my (now former) classmates again. I thought I would be 100% okay with this reality, assuming that getting away from the 88 other students I’ve shared four (or more) years with would be refreshing. Really, it just feels odd to know that social media may be the closest thing to “seeing” the people I’ve gone to school.

But on the flip side…

3.) I’ll meet a lot of people in college

As someone who comes from a relatively “small” high school, graduating from a class of merely 89 students, I wasn’t prepared to see that amount of students at my orientation. Additionally, I wasn’t prepared for the later realization that there will be even more kids on a daily basis as I venture around campus. On one end- it’s terrifying, completely daunting, and social anxiety-provoking, but on the other, it’s great, an opportunity to make new friends, and finally, a chance to meet people who share my common interests.

4.) I should’ve started saving money a long time ago

I’ve never been the most responsible with money and often end up blowing my paycheck on books and makeup. But seeing the bills come in, the cost of text books add up, and realizing the general expenses of living has inspired me to actually listen to what everyone has been telling me. Maybe college will finally kick my bad spending habits and impulsive midnight shopping sprees for good. Goodbye weekly Amazon packages, hello being a broke college student…

5.) It’s okay to spend time by myself

While it may be tempting to spend every second of daylight and every hour of darkness with your best friends before you’re all scattered across the map for your first semester of college- it’s okay to be alone. Even if you’re not as introverted as I am and do not physically crave the recharging that being alone gives me, sometimes alone time is necessary and completely valid. So don’t feel guilty for giving a rain check on a night out with your friends and choosing to stay in with a book instead, or locking your bedroom door and taking a five-hour nap instead of going on a date with your significant other. You deserve to have time to yourself and your friends will be there when you’re ready.