To The High School Senior Approaching The Last Days, Don't Hold Back

To The High School Senior Approaching The Last Days, Don't Hold Back

The time has finally come - senior year.
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Here you are, senior year.

This year will go by faster than you could ever imagine, make sure you take in every single moment. Of course, college is so fun, but you will be there soon enough. Don’t waste away your senior year just looking forward to the future.

Truly live and emerge yourself into every single moment High School has to offer.

Friday Night Lights will never be the same.

When your last high school football game comes, really take it all in. This is the last time your whole hometown will be cheering on all your best friends. Obviously, in college you get excited for your school's football team, but the feeling of actually knowing the players is simply indescribable.

There is something special about feeling joy not only for the team, but for the player himself. In college you cheer for your school, but in high school you cheer for your friends.

Every day, when you walk into high school, don’t complain about it.

It's such a comforting feeling to walk into a building and be familiar with every face you see. High school is truly a time to create some of your best memories that you will cherish forever.

I understand the constant cycle of your daily routine gets old, but I promise one day you'll give anything to relive a day at that school. Walk down those halls and dont care about anything, just have fun. All the drama that seems to be the end of the world right now will mean nothing in a few months, so dont get caught up in it.

I cannot stress this enough–say yes to every adventure that comes your way.

Create as many memories with all your best friends while you still can. In less than one short year, you will all go your separate ways, so enjoy every second spent together. Roll down the windows in your car and jam out to your favorite songs. Have sleepovers and stay up all night talking about nothing but everything all at once.

Don't allow a boy to get in the way of any friendships, after all, high school is about finding your bridesmaids, not your husband. Allow yourself to let loose and go out and have fun, some of the best stories come from rebellious nights with your best friends. Start to write down moments you never want to forget and take lots and lots of pictures – in ten years you will want those to look back on.

Make sure to enjoy the moments you don’t even realize you're going to miss.

It is so easy to take advantage of daily rituals. When you go away next year you'll learn to appreciate a hug from your mom – because no one gives better hugs than your own mother. With that being said, hug your family every chance you get. Let your parents know that not only do you love them, but you appreciate them.

Spend time with your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Family is so important and you need to make time for them while you're still home. No matter what you say right now, you will miss them next year.

As the year winds down and prom comes around, find the perfect dress that you feel beautiful in.

Go with someone you are comfortable around and will have fun with. This is one of the last times you will be with all your friends in high school, so make it amazing. Take as many pictures as you can and enjoy every single second of it. I mean that, every single second. Dance the night away and enjoy yourself at the post-prom event. The next morning go with your prom group to breakfast and laugh about all the events of the night before.

Finally, at graduation look around – see all the faces.

There is a good chance that most of the people you have grown up with you will never see again. You are about to start the next chapter of your life, and although you may be ready, you will always hold a special place for your high school memories. After graduation, hug your friends, tell all your favorite teachers you appreciate them, thank your parents, make this a happy ending. It is okay to cry, but be thankful you care enough to cry.

As you head off to college, be sure to stay in touch with the people closest to you. Never allow yourself to forget them because after all, they helped shape you into the person you have become.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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10 Things I Learned When My Best Friend Got Pregnant In High School

In this world where you can be anything: be a friend (and be a good one).

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Life: full of amazing, unforeseen circumstances. How you roll with the punches only reveals your strength.
True friends are like diamonds: bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style." -Nicole Richie

I remember when I first heard the big news. I didn't want to believe it. My heart dropped. I was worried for you. What would happen? How would you get through this? Nothing we knew would ever be the same. Our world was about to change forever. I recalled the verse Isaiah 41:10, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." I knew God was with you and would always be. I knew God needed me to be here for you, no matter what.

Turns out, you had this all in the bag. You handled everything with grace and dignity. You were strong even on your hardest days. You were overwhelmed with faith and you inspired me with your perseverance through the hardest times. I could not be more proud of who you became because of the cards you were dealt.

To Meaghan: I love you. I'm always here, no matter where. Hudson is so lucky to have you.

Here's what I learned from you and your sweet baby boy:

1. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the end of the world

Start making plans for the future. Pick out clothes, decorations, and toys. Help with all the madness and preparation. She would do the same for you. Plus, 9 p.m. runs to Toys-R-Us just to buy the baby some socks (because you do not know the gender yet) is always a good idea. You have to focus on the big picture. Life doesn't stop even when you want to.

2. No matter how much you want to freak out, remain calm

Getting unexpected news is never easy to hear. If needed, cry. Cry until you cannot anymore. Then, get up and be strong, she needs you. Be flexible (You want to come over to hang out? Right now? No, I'm not in the middle of ten thousand things, come on over). Be available (yes, even for her 3 a.m. insomnia calls just to see "what's up?") "Meaghan, why are you even awake right now?"

3. Radiate positivity. Always. 

This is an emotional time. The LAST thing she needs is someone bringing her down. "No, honey, you're glowing!" "You do not look fat in that bikini!!" "You are rocking that baby bump!" "Oh, that's your the third day in a row you're eating a Sonic burger for lunch? You go girl!"

4. Be ready for all the times: happy, confusing, stressful, sad, (but mostly) exciting

Mixed emotions are so hard, but look for the silver lining. With your support, she will be strong.

"Who knew picking out the brand of diapers to buy was so stressful?"

5. This world is a scary place. You never want to be all alone, so don't be. 

Like the song says, we, really do, all need someone to lean on. Just being there for someone goes a long way. "Meaghan what the heck are you doing in MY bed? How long have you been here?"

6. Lean on God. His plan is greater than we could ever imagine. 

When you don't know where to go, or who to turn to, pray! Pray for the burdens you feel. Pray for the future. Pray for patience. Pray for the ability to not grow weary. Pray for a heart of compassion. Pray. Pray. Pray.

7. Something we never knew we needed. 

Some of the best things in life are things we never knew we needed. Who knows where we would be without this sweet face?

"Hudson say Lib. Libby. L-- Come ON!" "CAT!" "Okay, that works too."

8. "Mother knows best"...is accurate, whether you believe it or not

Turns out, seventeen-year-olds don't know how to plan baby showers. Our moms have been there, done that. They want to be involved just as much as we do, so let them! Listen to their guidance. After all, they're professionals.

9. There will *almost always* be a "better way" of doing something...but, be a cheerleader, not a critic 

This is something many people struggle with in general, but it is not your DNA, it is not your place to be a critic. Let her raise her own baby. You are there to be a friend, not a mentor. ****Unless she's about to name the baby something absolutely terrible -- for the love of that baby, don't let her name that kid something everyone hates.

10.  At the end of the day, it's not what you have or what you know; rather, it is all about who you love and those who love you

Life has adapted, but for the better. We grew up, learned, and became stronger. All the while, we stayed friends every step of the way. We still have the same fun and most definitely, the same laughs.

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Profit Over The People

Diversity comes in various forms; whether it be culturally or fiscally, there are several ways to identify people as similar or different. The city of Miami, FL loves to advertise its diversity when it comes to attracting tourists, yet it is choosing profit over its people.

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The google definition for gentrification is "the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste." Which seems extremely palatable, but the gross and harsh reality is that gentrification is the destruction of housing in impoverished areas to then construct neighborhoods of higher value. And in that process, the homes, memories, and culture of those areas are erased off the face of the earth as if they never existed.

The residents of these homes do receive compensation for giving up their homes, but not nearly enough to find an alternative housing solution. This has been the case for the city of Miami for quite some time now; placing shopping malls and luxury condominiums on top of the memories and homes of families that have resided in the same area for decades on end.

According to the 2015 and 2016 census, Miami ranks second worst in the nation for income and poverty levels, yet officials deem it appropriate to further the expansion of luxury living and attraction by ridding of the low-income communities. The homeless population in the city of Miami has been a major concern for years; but instead of addressing said issue, they are simply contributing to it by further permitting these expansions to occur.

These construction projects not only contribute to pre-existing traffic problem in the city of Miami due to overpopulation but leaves those who once had a home, out on the streets. There is a total of 179,200 households in Miami-Dade County, 44% of those house children under the age of 18 years old and the household poverty rate in Miami- Dade County was 21.3%, according to the 2013 ACS.

What are the odds of there being households that fall under both of those categories; not only is gentrification putting paying citizens out on the streets, but their children as well.

Allowing the private agendas of public officials affect our neighbors in such a manner is merciless. A large part of Miami consists of low-income areas, yet they have been falling off the map little by little over time. They are starting from the bottom up, and what once was considered a middle-class community will soon be deemed a low-income area in comparison to new structures.

When will it stop? The living expenses in Miami are already unmanageable, but if this continues Miami will soon lose all of its original residences and cultures. Left in the remains of a once culturally thriving and accepting community will be a playground for the wealthy, built on the soil of what used to be home to a culturally, economically and experientially diverse community.

The unfortunate matter is that this isn't only happening in the city of Miami, but in various large cities across the country. Pushing low-income housing off the map, contributing to the homeless population, to then drive initiatives to relocate the homeless if they are found in affluent neighborhoods.

How can one rise to the occasion in hopes of creating a better life, if they are constantly being pushed down by institutionalized prevention? Gentrification is a national issue; a country that prides itself on opportunity and progress is slowly evolving into a country for the wealthy.

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