To The High School Seniors Ready To Graduate, Don't Forget

To The High School Seniors Ready To Graduate, Don't Forget

It's okay to be ready, but don't forget where you came from
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I was once in your shoes. It’s around almost two months into your last year of high school. My how the time has flown by, right? Some of you are excited. Some of you are scared. Most of you are ready to leave, but are you really? It’s a weird feeling being in high school, but also at the same time being forced to look at colleges.

Now, make sure to make every moment count. It sounds so cliché, but I mean it. Go to that homecoming football game, the senior night soccer game, the school dance. No matter how much you say you don’t want to, go to prom. It honestly is a once in a life time experience. The people around you care so much about you and it will not be the same in college.

Do not be restricted to certain people, or making certain people happy. This is supposed to be the best year of your high school career, so worrying about others and their happiness will not help you focus on your own. Do not be afraid to reach out to people though. It is great to make new friends even if it is senior year. They could end up being one of your best friends.

Do not forget about your life long best friends. Yes, you probably will not be going to the same college, but that means to hold them even closer throughout senior year. You will part ways, you might not talk every day, but you will always be able to visit and talk to them.

Make sure to enjoy your parents company. The months are winding down and you’ll be packing up your car before you know it. When you’re three hours away you will be wishing you sat down with your parents more. The phone calls will last around 20 minutes every couple of days because they’ll make sure you’re okay and ask a lot of other questions about college.

As a senior, I was ready to graduate. I’m still very glad to be out of high school and out on my own, but trust me when I say you’re going to miss it. Continue to be excited about the new adventure that is approaching, but never forget where you came from.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Traveling Is Great, But Packing Is The Worst Task Of All Time

I'm probably taking this out of proportion...but hear me out!

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When I was a kid, packing wasn't such a big deal. I had both of my parents with me, so if I forgot something, they'd just take me to the store and it'd all be okay. Now, I'm more or less on my own. Lucky for me, I have my fiance who calms my nerves, but he also insists on packing early when I'd rather put it off. If I'm going to be living out of a suitcase for long enough, why would I make it even longer?

I admit that I also procrastinate packing because it makes me anxious. Remembering everything I need for a weekend, week, or longer is so stressful to me, but I'm 99% sure I'm not alone in this feeling. Traveling is an anxiety-provoking experience that can be extremely draining. Every time I travel, even if it's simply a three-hour drive to Chicago or St. Louis, I come home exhausted! Maybe I'm a wimp, or maybe I'm onto something.

Getting out of our comfort zone is really difficult.

I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. It's a huge leap of faith to do things that are outside of our normal, everyday activities. If you struggle with anxiety as I do, it's even harder to manage abnormal environments.

Don't get me wrong — I absolutely love vacationing. I can't wait to go on my honeymoon this summer! It's not the vacation that stresses me out but the preparation and travel. There's so much to get ready (especially for us women — am I right, ladies?), and I'm always scared I'll leave something behind I can't easily buy away from home, like my prescription medications.

Alongside the anxiety of my forgetfulness, I also am never calm in stress-provoking environments like airports. Everyone is rushing around everywhere, so even if I know that I'm on time, I get stressed out just being in a place where other people are stressed. I know airports have this whole "she got off the plane!" vibe thanks to Friends, but to me, there's nothing romantic about them...at all.

So, is traveling really worth the stress of it all?

If you asked me the night before I leave to go somewhere, I'd probably tell you no. But if you asked me when I got to my destination, I would say YES — traveling is so worth it! You get to go to a new place and try new things and stay at a hotel or condo that's not your house. Everything about it is strange yet exciting at the same time.

Take it from the most introverted introvert out there: traveling is worth the stress. The airports, cars, packing, and any other challenges are all worth it because you get to create memories that will last a lifetime — sorry, not sorry, for the terrible cliche. In the end, you're not going to remember the stress. You're going to remember the moment when you climbed to the top of that mountain or felt the sand between your toes. You're going to remember the people you were with, the memories, and the love and friendship you share.

Trust me, explore the world — it's worth the stress.

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