It was about this time last year that I was practically pulling my hair out because I was so close to the end of high school. Graduation was so close I could taste it. The air was warm, classes were dwindling down, and the classrooms I knew so well were cluttered with final papers waiting to be graded. Those four years went by so quickly, but at the same time, it felt like they dragged on forever.

I don't even know how I would describe high school. For me, it wasn't terrible, but by senior year, I could tell it was time for a change and I was itching to get out. In retrospect, I wish I would have held on to those final moments of high school. I wish I would have told my teachers how much I truly appreciated them. I wish I spent more time with my friends before I had to leave them for my next adventure. I wish I didn't take the warmth of familiar faces for granted.

I really thought that I knew everything back then. I thought that since I was amongst the older students at that school, there was nothing else that my high school could offer me. I had seen it all, learned all the tricks. I left high school knowing exactly what I wanted.

But here's the thing:

The way I see it now is that high school is not about figuring everything out. To me, high school is about preparing yourself to explore different opportunities and to give every one of those opportunities a fair chance. To me, high school is about acquiring skills that are necessary for any line of work so that you can enter college, or whatever that next step might be, fully equipped with the best of yourself.

Some people have their whole life planned out at an early age and they stick with that plan through and through. I applaud those people for finding something they love so much and committing to it wholeheartedly, but for a lot of us, the truth of the matter is that there is so much about the world and about ourselves that we do not know.

We owe it to ourselves to explore the unknown. Because what I have learned this past year is that one discovery leads to another and you never know what you might find along the way.

What I thought I wanted a year ago is vastly different than what I want now. And it's all because high school taught me to have an open mind about everything I do. High school taught me to put my best foot forward every step of the way. It taught me to stay humble and understand that there is something that I can learn from every person I meet. It taught me the value of exploration.

So, although I don't remember every math formula that I learned in those four years, the things that I do remember turned out to be much more valuable to me even if I didn't realize it at the time.

My advice to high school seniors as they count down the days until graduation: hold on to these moments, work hard until the end, stay humble, and always keep an open mind.