What They Didn't Tell You About Graduating From High School

What They Didn't Tell You About Graduating From High School

It's not just gowns and caps and smiling... it's thirteen years of your life, culminating in one moment.
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I graduated on June 1st. Everyone always told me so many things about graduation. They told me to enjoy my senior year when it comes around because I’ll never get that time again. They told me that graduating was going to be so bittersweet, as I step from one chapter of my life to the next. I listened, but I never really understood what they said. I suppose, on some level, you can never really understand anything that people will say to you until you’ve been through it yourself. But, I still want to impart some wisdom on the upcoming senior class as they go through their last year of grade school and graduation.


1. It comes around a lot sooner than you think-

And that’s scary. You've seen the seniors leave and graduate and haven't thought much about it. But then, all of a sudden, you're a senior, you're graduating.You swear you remember what it felt like to be sitting in the stands, watching those people in gowns float across the stage, not really processing what it meant. And now you're there, and how could this possibly be real? How could high school have ended so quickly? The majority of your life up to now has been about this one thing, and now it’s all going to end. You're not complaining of course, but it sometimes just shocks you a bit. It's scary, growing up.

When you’re at your graduation, no matter where you are sitting, make sure that you take a moment to look all around you. Look at all of your classmates and teachers, and no matter your experience in high school, take a moment to be grateful. Wherever you’re going from here, your high school will always be the place you came from. So just take a moment to enjoy it before it’s all over.

2. It's stressful-

People always look so happy, so easy breezy beautiful up there as they're walking across stage, finally done with high school, and summer ahead of them. And those feelings are genuine. But dude, graduating is difficult. The weeks leading up to it are especially difficult because you have to make sure you're actually going to graduate. There are a million forms to fill out, exit interviews, future plans, etc. etc. on top of all the school work that teachers deem necessary to throw at you. And then there's writing speeches and giving them, planning for parties, all of the end-of-the-year festivities and fitting in last dates and lunches with people, getting things ready for colleges… the list of things to do is endless. Amid all the stress though, don't forget to enjoy everything. It's really not as busy as it may seem, just a bit overwhelming as you're trying to deal with all of the emotions.

3. You will cry. A lot.-

You’ll tell yourself that you’re not going to cry, because you’re ready to graduate. Because this is a happy ending, not a sad one. Because you’re moving on to even greater things. But as soon as the final bell rings on your last day of school, you’ll burst-- literally burst-- into tears. If not then, then you will at some time. Leaving is emotional, as is saying goodbye.

4. You get asked A LOT of questions-

“So where are you headed next year?” “What's your major?” “What do you want to do?” “Any plans for the summer?” “So how does it feel to be graduating?” Um it feels really weird. See, I hate this question most of all, because they know EXACTLY how it feels and even if they don't, they're expecting a specific answer, like some sad proclamation of how nostalgic or scared you are or how you’re so happy and excited for the next step. And yes, they expect that because those feelings are a pretty natural and common response, but how are we supposed to explain to you the true complexity of what we are feeling? It's a really difficult question with a really complicated answer. Until now, I never really realized the value of stock answers that you have prepared to spit out when someone asks a question. So, make sure you have a couple of those up your sleeve.

5. It tastes like sweet victory-

Graduating is AWESOME. It’s the past 13 years of your life culminating into one moment, one piece of paper, one walk across a stage. It’s every night your spent awake cramming for an exam, finishing a project, or editing a final paper. It’s all of the sweat, blood and tears (literally) that went into your education. You did it. It all paid off. Congratulations.

6. Perspective-

One really important thing that you learn from graduation is perspective. What seemed important then doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. High school was a montage of worrying about SAT and ACT scores, about college acceptance, about tests, quizzes, homework, grades, AHHHHH. But you realize, when you’re at the end of your senior year, none of that really matters as much as you thought it did back then. Of course, I can say all this after being admitted into the college of my choice and knowing where I’m going to be next fall. I can understand why it’s difficult to have perspective when there is a problem at hand with no real solution readily available yet. But honestly speaking, it just doesn’t matter as much as you think it all does. Everything will work out in the end. You will figure it out. Trivial things are not worth losing your mind over. When you reach the end of your senior year, you’ll realize that those things don’t matter as much, and you don’t want to live with the regret that you lost four years of your life worrying about the wrong things. So, when it comes time to graduation, LIVE IT UP. Have fun. Go out with your friends, have dinner, go to concerts, party hard and celebrate. These are moments you won’t get back. No matter what happened back then or what will happen in the future, you deserve these moments right now, and you deserve to make them count. Take a step back, apply a bit of perspective and just. have. fun.

Cover Image Credit: Julie Semones

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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3 Things i learned at pride in NYC

The people, the flags, and the glitter are even more magical in person.

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On Sunday, June 24th, my girlfriend, my best friend and I, all hopped on a train to the World Trade Center in New York City. After a short subway ride, we arrived at 16th Street, where the parade festivities began. Dressed in our decked out rainbow attire, we entered a vibrant crowd of flag wielding, self-loving having, beautiful people. Pride is something the LGBTQIA+ community knows how to celebrate well. Lesbihonest, I think its safe to say that the LGBTQ+ community essentially created loving yourself, along with embracing those around you, whether you know them or not. While at Pride, I learned a few things about myself, about how to love others, and what it means to be apart of a community.

1. Love thy neighbor

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Because pride is such an important event to the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of people that attend each year is increasing by the thousands. There were an expected 48,000 people this year and when you're amerced in such a large crowd keeping your cool is super important. I learned that in most cases, giving love will result in receiving it, especially in 84-degree weather. So when I was making my way through energetic crowds, I used my p's and q's and was met with the same energy from strangers.

2. At pride, the dress code is no dress code

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If you're in the mood to wear your birthday suit, glitter, or witty t-shirt and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community as a member or as an ally, pride is the place to be! The extravagant outfits and expression of self-pride through clothes and even lack of clothes made me feel extremely comfortable in my own outfit. I think we all have had our share of being uncomfortable in our skin or clothes, but being around thousands of people dressed in whatever made them most comfortable that day was a beautiful experience.

3. Pride is not solely about the LGBTIA+ community

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Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes New York City's LGBT pride events each year, strives to work towards creating a future that consists of equal rights for all under the law. The march is an annual civil rights demonstration that brings awareness to the fight against aids, the Black Lives Matter movement and memorializes those who have lost their lives to illness, violence and neglect. This year over 450 different organizations participated in the march and about 110 floats were shown, each float bringing awareness to different organizations.

As an Afro-Latina, lesbian, I felt very represented and extremely grateful to participate in a civil rights event such as pride. The opportunity to educate myself and even feel more comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy myself with the people I love most, is something I will truly cherish. Hopefully, my experiences and knowledge will expand next year at the 2019 NYC pride!

Cover Image Credit:

Em Goss

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