Growing up, high school is portrayed as being a momentous period of your lifetime. Nothing will top it, you'll find yourself during your high school years, you'll find out who your true friends are, they say. We can attribute these notions to the media we consume: movies, books, those wildly popular tweets that you see five times a day.
But these ideas set us up for disappointment; high school is a small fraction of your lifetime and for the vast majority of people, it isn't seen as the best years of their lives.
Every moment feels so important once we're in them. As adolescents, we look to high school as the golden years of freedom, and the feeling of being "cool" that comes with getting older. In high school, we tend to have underclassmen looking up to us, responsibilities to teams, clubs, etc. that make us feel as if we serve an importance to this institution that we've spent so much time in. This time serves as the foundation for which you can begin to learn about yourself.
While high school can definitely have a large impact on your life, it may not be the pivotal years that define you as a person. Your existence does not lose importance once you step out of high school for the last time. It is the years after high school that lead you down a path to self-discovery. High school is the beginning of that path, not the end. The experiences that come after graduation become much more crucial to developing your identity.
In addition, the notion that high school is the primary place where you develop meaningful relationships that you will carry with you throughout your life is not an absolute truth. Many times, people change dramatically once high school graduation is behind them; they can become people you no longer recognize.
Some friendships are only formed based on proximity while others can withstand the distance that college or other pursuits bring. Fading friendships can be a difficult thing to navigate but with maturity and understanding, it becomes easier to accept the changes that come.
Growing up is challenging; a time made up of constant losses and gains that we can't seem to catch up with. It can feel like time passes without any idea of how much is different around us before we look up one day and only see the unfamiliar. The key to navigating high school before, during, and after is letting go of preconceived notions, not setting yourself up for things that may not come. But also recognize that high school is massively important to your development and can set you up for future opportunities.
Enjoy the experiences as they present themselves to you, make the best of the time you have, cherish the people that you have. Better things are coming.