When you're a senior in high school, people tell you to enjoy yourself because you'll never have a more carefree time to do whatever you please. You smile with a glimmer of recognition that this may be their experience, but it certainly won't be your's. You know you and your high school friends are going to be there for each other all the time- or, at least for the big events. You know you're always going to be close to your parents. You know that getting good grades and being liked by the majority of your peers will always be important.
And then you actually graduate, move to college, and experience the next stage of your life. And then you realize with a sense of dread that they were right. Suddenly, it's harder for you and your high school friends to get together. Your parents and you talk maybe once a week, unless it's finals or your first college party or that cute boy from your math class asked you out, and you're on the phone at least five times a day with your mom. And as far as grades go, you could care less about your general education health class, and you've already calculated the percentage of assignments you need to complete in order to pass with a solid C. C's get degrees, right...?
The senior in high school and the college freshmen are two completely different animals- one that slowly transforms into a different being with different thoughts, different cares, and differently accentuated traits (kind of like those morphing animal chapter books that were so popular in the late 90's.)
I recently attended my best friend's little sister's graduation reception, and I found it to be an oddly emotional experience. Looking back at my senior year of high school and what I actually experienced in college, I came up with the following thoughts/ pieces of advice any graduating senior should have:
1. You will change.
...And as scary as that might be, it's ok. In fact, it's more than ok! The cool thing about college and the "adult realm" of life is that you have the freedom to make your own decisions. If you want to be a super rad hipster who listens to regge music at three in the morning, be the super rad hipster who listens to regge music at three in the morning. Just don't lose your core self in the process.
2. You will fail.
You will give some situations everything you've got and then some, and you're still going to fall flat on your face. It sucks failing- especially when you feel like it's something that was entirely out of your control. Failing, however, provides an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, and helps prepare you for smarter decisions in the future. You will fail, and it will ultimately help you.
3. You will make new friends.
This was really hard for me to come to terms with when I entered college. I had the privilege of meeting my "forever friends" in high school- you know, those people who know you better than yourself, the people you can't live without. When I came to college, I was suddenly around the same people all the time. I branched out, made some new friends, and suddenly found the forefront of my mind crowded with college friends' joys and woes and plans instead of my forever friends from high school. I had to purposefully make time to write my high school friends. And I'll let you in on a little secret- they're experiencing the same thing. The true friends in your life from high school will stick around and take time to communicate with you. It takes work to maintain a friendship- put in the time and effort, and your forever friends will truly be forever.
4. You will experience an entirely different type of stress.
High school stress is nothing compared to college stress. Suddenly you have a schedule that's entirely unique to you- with at least twelve credits and an expected three hours of work per credit per week. Add to that a job (or three!), a relationship, and trying to maintain a healthy social life, and you have a perfect recipe for a heaping cup of stress. Throughout the years, you learn different ways to manage your stress- trust in the power of friendship, Netflix, and Taco Bell at 3 AM.
5. You will love every minute of it.
In the end, college truly does hold some of the best memories. Throughout the craziness of it all, you end up having fun that will have you laughing throughout the years. Hang in there, and enjoy the ride- you deserve it! Venture out, but never forget your roots, for they're what made you, you!