Dear High School Senior,

It is now February, which means that pretty soon you'll be hearing back from schools and making final decisions about your post-graduation plans. I'm sure you're pretty stoked for what's to come. You're probably counting down the days until graduation and have a separate countdown just for the days until you can leave your house, your town, and your old life behind. If you're anything like I was, you plan on going to school and creating a fresh start for yourself where no one will know who you were in high school. You're probably looking forward to staying out without a curfew and not having rules, and while these are valid things to look forward to, cherish your life as it is right now. Whether you know it or not, there are things about your life that you will definitely miss.

Your life is about to make a complete 180. When you go off to college, so much will be new. You will be completely uprooted from your past life and be forced to create a new one. Everything will be uncomfortable and weird. Unfortunately, your mom won't be around to do your laundry. You decide for yourself when to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and your whole schedule will be up to you. There will be days where you will miss your parents waking you up for school and coming into your room to check up on you while you're doing homework. You'll miss your family pets and the childhood friends and classmates that you grew up with. You might find yourself missing the simplicity. You'll have to create new experiences for yourself and ultimately dictate your own life and study habits.

Though I'm a sophomore, and there are days that I still miss the warm embrace of a family member and a little guidance from a neighbor or childhood friend. I think that my sick days are my most lonely. I lay in bed with a cup of warmed up Campbell's and miss the days when I would stay home from school with my mom to take care of me.

You will come home and everything will be familiar, but not yours anymore. Your hometown will become someone else's. You will come home to find new neighbors filling a new house built at the end of your block. The menu specials will change. This is now someone else's home. Your friends that are still in high school will move on without you. Everything will become drifty and foreign. This is all okay. It's a part of growing up.

These next few months, as you and your friends open your acceptance letters, rejection letters, or anything in between, congratulate each other. High school can be a really rough time for some people (I know it was for me). Console each other through your last months as a high schooler. Celebrate each other. Go to your Prom even if you think it's stupid. Take lots of pictures with your friends and classmates. Mend old bridges that you may have previously burnt. Walk across that stage with dignity and love in your heart and look back on your last four years with love, not hate. Even if you thought you hated that school and those halls, try to leave them with grace. These next four years will be about finding yourself, recreating yourself in ways you previously might not have known how to. Cherish every waking moment, because there is truly nothing else like it.