Thank Yous for my high school friends

7 Thank Yous For My Best Friends That Shaped Me Well Beyond Our 4 Years Of High School

You get things no one else ever will.

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Living on my college campus, I am so blessed to have amazing friends in such close proximity. In my sorority house, in the classroom, and even at Starbucks, I can almost always find a friendly face. The memories I make with all of these friends will last a lifetime, and I know that. At the same time, there are parts of my life that they will only be able to hear about and never understand from firsthand experience.

Now, when I come home and see my high school friends, there's something strange about when we talk about our lives with each other. Because we all moved to separate cities upon high school graduation, we have all made new friends in our towns, schools, and workplaces. Our circles have changed, and the common ground we have is two years outdated. At the same time, these friendships mean the world to me, and I want to cherish them forever.

As I take a step back and let myself realize how much other people play a role in shaping my life, I want to thank my high school friends for the way they helped me become who I am. Though there are countless instances I can appreciate, here are a few that come to mind.

1. Thank you for your encouragement.

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In high school, whenever I started to doubt my abilities, you all reminded me of my strengths. When I was dealing with breakups or failures, you were right there to have my back and keep me on my feet. Heck, we held giant fathead baby pictures of each other for our senior nights. Whether it meant sitting on the bleachers for a volleyball or softball game or sitting in the audience for a musical or talent show, we all supported each other.

2. Thank you for your reality checks.

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I think we can all agree that I am the most sensitive one out of our group, a hard quality to have when I am also a perfectionist. When I cared too much about others' opinions when I let a boy treat me like less than I deserved, and when I took on too much in order to prove to myself I had a purpose, you all reminded me I was enough simply by being me.

3. Thank you for your bravery.

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One of you is a state away, balancing playing a collegiate sport with a rigorous academic schedule. One of you is paying for college on your own, working five days a week and taking classes at the same time. Finally, one of you has known what you wanted out of life since we were juniors in high school, and you have never let anyone's opinions sway you to choose a different path. The bravery you each show as individuals inspires me to find balance, work for what I want, and pursue my passions.

4. Thank you for the laughter.

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Whether we were 12 and saran wrapping the toilet, 15 and causing trouble in Algebra II, or 18 and doing cartwheels down the hallway, you all have been a major source of joy in my life. I'll find myself saying our inside jokes, quoting our favorite YouTube videos and Vines, and singing songs we've made up, and no one else will know what I'm talking about. It's these instances that are the most bittersweet--we will never have times exactly like these again, but they will stay part of who I am for the rest of my life.

5. Thank you for the adventure.

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For spring break our senior year, we traveled to a foreign country together. The number of pictures, inside jokes, and new followers on Instagram from that week alone prove that it was an adventure. Even more so, however, you all made each otherwise normal day an adventure. In our small town, we found fun in exploring abandoned schools, driving with the windows down and music up, drinking vanilla cokes, and eating one too many crab rangoons.

I remember sitting in the McDonald's parking lot waiting for the police after a drive-thru trip turned car collision, blasting Big Sean in the high school parking lot at midnight, and eating Taco Bell in the baseball dugout after-hours. I remember freaking out about the older boy who texted us, staying up all night to try to pry our way into a fake Snapchat account, and one of you peeing on a hotel carpet (and one of you in the sink).

The exotic trip was one of the best weeks of my life, but the way you all brought adventure into each day will also be something I am forever grateful for.

6. Thank you for the memories.

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Whenever I talk any story from high school, I always mention you. I'm sure my friends here all know who you are, and the ones who have met you can tell exactly who I am talking about when I tell a story. We bowled, we ice skated, we got makeovers, we had photo shoots, we watched way too many scary movies, we went to one-too-many cringeworthy dances, and we challenged authority (#TheGrindNeverStops #FreeHerHotCocoa #ThreeStrikes #PendejasAmericanas).

7. Thank you for never giving up on me.

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Even though we don't talk every day anymore, my heart smiles when I see videos of your nephews, cousins, and dogs. I love to see how happy you are with the men in your life, and I am also so happy to see how you thrive on your own at the same time. I know that if I need it as I did so badly toward the end of my first semester of college, you will only be a phone call away. I know that even from miles away, you are rooting for me. I'm rooting for you, too.

I know you all got so annoyed with me senior year for singing, "Make new friends and keep the old; some are silver and the others gold." Still, I want you to know that this advice has stuck with me, and I want to thank you for being among the gold.

I love you.

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Dear Soon-To-Be Seniors

These are a few things we'd like to tell you about Senior year.
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Dear soon-to-be high school seniors,

Goodbye. As the class of ahead of you, we've watched you grow, always one step behind us. As we graduate, there are some things I'd like to tell you about your last year of high school.

Yes, Senior year can be just as amazing as everyone says it is, if you make it that way. But don't think it's a blow-off year with no work. This year may hold some of the most stressful times of your life.Be prepared for late nights writing papers or hard tests that could make or break your graduation status. However, don't stress too much about homework. A question I often asked myself this year was, "in twenty years, will I remember staying up till 2am studying for Econ? Or will I remember a fun night with my friends?" Ok, probably not the best advice if you don't have the best of grades, but most of the time you stress yourself out for no reason and miss out on fun things.

Another thing, try to get on the college grind early. If you haven't already, start looking at colleges and applying! Then narrow it down as soon as you can. You don't want to be stressed about that decision in the last month of senior year. Honestly, the sooner you can make your decision, the happier and less stressed you will probably be.

It's not too late to join new things either; a lot of people join a sport or a club senior year and have a lot of fun because of it. So try that thing you've always wanted to join! Speaking of which, go to prom! I won't tell you prom is the best experience of your life because for some people it's not, but it's pretty amazing. Don't stress too much about getting a date, either the right guy/girl will show up, or you'll just go with your friends and still have a blast.

Don't be too rude to the underclassmen. You were that young just a few years ago. And they're the ones who usually put your senior nights together, so make sure you thank them. Also keep in mind that they are looking up to you. Remember those seniors you looked up to just a few short years ago? Be a good example. Take your place in the school as Seniors and continue where we left off; carry on the legacy of your school and be proud of it.

If your school does Kairos (or a similar senior retreat), be absolutely open to it! If it's your thing, enjoy it! If it's not your thing, still try to be open to it. You don't have to love it, but at least don't hate on it before you've even been. Bonding with your class is a big part of senior year. I made so many new friends this year that I never thought I would if it hadn't been for Kairos.

Speaking of which, be open to new friends. Whether they're seniors or not, talk to everyone. In a few months, you may never see those kids again, so it's worth getting to know them past just being friends on Facebook. Also, don't give up on dating people in your class. Yeah, there's only a few months left and you've spent the last 4 years with these people, but there might be one person out there who could change your whole year for the better if you give them the chance.

Above all, enjoy it. You only get one senior year, so make it count. Go to everything you possibly can: every football game, dance, party, musical, bonfire, etc. Enjoy wearing the jersey of your team for the last time, taking your last bow on your high school stage, and turning in your last final, because it will all be gone within the blink of an eye. You'll find yourself walking down the aisle in a cap and gown of those same school colors you thought you despised (but really, you'll secretly miss). You'll look at your favorite teachers lined up behind you and your family sitting in front of you, and most importantly your class around you, and I hope, I really hope, you don't regret a single moment of senior year.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Skog

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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