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17 Things I Wish I Knew At 17

Last year, best year.
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Seventeen. The year you begin senior year of high school. The year you begin to look at colleges and decide where you're going to spend the next four years of your life. The year you will probably have your heart broken at least once.

Your 17th year is huge. And, in hopes to help all of you 17-year-olds during your last year of high school, I've decided to share with you some insight into making this year the best year yet:

1. Every day of senior year should not be a fashion show

You've spent literally every other year of high school trying to impress your friends/the boys at your school. However, this is your last year. The fashion show is over. Forget the eyeliner every once in a while and know that wearing a T-shirt to school is actually the best thing ever.

2. The Lord is going to shut doors for a reason

... especially when it comes to college. You might not get into your dream school or you might not do so well on the SAT. Learn from it. He has a plan.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Had A Plan

3. This is your last year with your best friends as your best friends

It's the hard truth, but once you get to college, you're going to make a ton of new best friends. It's totally a good thing, trust me! But this is your last year doing life with your best friends -- make it count.

4. Eat as much as you want

Yeah, enjoy the pizza for lunch/soccer practice after school routine while it lasts. College is going to kick your metabolism's butt (and not in a pretty way).

5. Don't date unless you absolutely can't help it

You have no idea where you're going to school in the fall. You have no idea where your crush is going to go. And unless you're absolutely, 100 percent convinced y'all are going to get married, don't open up the possibility of dating during your senior year. Because I promise, a relationship with one of y'all in California and one of y'all in Tennessee is never going to be a walk in the park.

6. Show off on the basketball court

... or the soccer field, or the baseball diamond, or wherever your heart desires. It's your last year to prove yourself to your teammates, opponents, and coaches. Show off a little bit -- you deserve it.

7. Be intentional

Whether it's with your best girlfriends or the rising freshmen, be a presence in their school year. It makes coming home from college to them a whole lot sweeter.

8. Don't be a punk

Despite what you think, your parents and teachers are much more wiser and smarter than you are. Don't talk back, don't fight them, and don't disobey. It will make your year a whole lot smoother.

9. What you see in the mirror is beautiful

So often my senior year I found myself wishing I saw something else in the mirror, and it caused a lot of frustration and selfishness to occur during the school year. Don't let your appearance consume you; your heart is all that matters.

10. Have school spirit

You're going to be sitting in your dorm room on the night of your high school's first home game wishing you were there. Believe me, it's going to happen. Soak up the obnoxious football chants and dress up themes while you can -- you're going to miss it.

11. Love on your parents

They're going to miss you a whole lot when you leave for college, I promise. Despite whatever fighting and frustration takes place in your home, know that they love you and are low-key dreading you leaving for school. Love on them, stay home on a Friday night to watch a movie with them, and show them as much grace as you can. This is the last year they can make you soup when you're not feeling good and give you back scratches on the hard days -- don't forget it.

12. Drama needs to be done

This is literally your last year with your entire class all together. Do you really want to spend it bickering with or gossiping about these people? Do you really want to graduate with hate in your heart for any of them? Because I know it's not worth it. Be kind, be compassionate, and be understanding.

13. Don't slack in school

Contrary to popular belief, colleges indeed look at your senior year grades. Don't slack -- it's not worth losing a scholarship or college acceptance because you "forgot" to turn in your paper or "accidentally" plagiarized the whole thing.

14. Spend time with your siblings

I know the person I missed the most when I got to school was my little sister. After this year, you're done living in the same home with your siblings 365 days a year, and I promise you're going to miss it. Don't forget about them while you're too busy doing senior things.

15. Go on spring break with your friends

It may get crazy, it may be dramatic, and it may be expensive, but the highlight of my senior year was spending a week at the beach with my best friends. We made the best memories and laughed until we cried -- so do it.

16. Take lots of pictures

No matter how annoyed your friends get with you making every hangout a "photo sesh," you're going to be so thankful you documented all of your memories when you're looking back your freshman year of college.

17. This is your last year of being a kid

This is your last year of your mom making your dinner and doing your laundry. This is your last year of studying the morning of for a test. This is your last year of being dependent on other people. Soak it up. Let your parents baby you some, and let your need for help be evident. Freshman year is going to be so sweet but so different, so be present in the season you're in.

College is so, so wonderful, but so is senior year. Take it head on and be present. Don't straighten your hair every day, don't lie to your parents, and love on your friends and siblings even when they drive you crazy. I promise, this is going to be the best year yet.

Cover Image Credit: me

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As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.

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I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

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