A year ago, I was counting down the days until I was going to graduate high school. I couldn't wait; how exciting was it that I was going to move on to the next stage of my life?! But when the time came to actually graduate, things weren't what I expected. My graduation day, I was really on edge. Even my family was asking if I was okay. And the truth was, no, I wasn't. I had been so absorbed in what came next that I hadn't taken the time to stop and think about what I was leaving behind.
And so, high school seniors, I'm writing this to advise you not to do that. Don't take these last days for granted.
It's totally normal to be excited about college, and you should be! But, there are some things you should make sure you do before your time in high school is done. After all, your high school has been your whole world for the past four years. Everyone you know is there, and most of the things you wrote on your college applications happened there too. So that's the first thing I would recommend: appreciate the familiarity of your school during this last month and a half. This is the last time you'll see all those people every day, and go through that same routine. It might not be your favorite thing in the world right now, but trust me, it'll be a culture shock when you have to do something different.
The second piece of advice I would give you is to really embrace all those things about your school that are good/bad/quirky/whatever. At my high school, that might mean running on a green track. It might mean getting that one thing in the cafeteria that everyone likes, even though it's really low-quality food. It might mean going to see the spring play, or choir concert, or major sporting event. It might mean taking part in some long-running, end-of-the-year tradition. It might mean anything. But whatever it is, do it, and recognize the value in all those things that make your high school what it is.
My third piece of advice is to say thank you. There are people at your high school who have helped make you the person you are today, no matter how much you might think you did it on your own. Say thank you to that teacher who always made sure to ask you how your game/meet/concert went, because she actually cared about your life outside of her class. Say thank you to the secretary or aide who would always say something nice to you when you walked through the lobby. Say thank you to the coach who taught you how to really love your sport. Say thank you to your closest friends for being there for you through all of the rough patches. And say thank you to your family for helping you with homework, carting you around to practices or rehearsals all the time, and putting up with all of the times you were frustrated and upset over an assignment or some drama.
I don't mean to make it sound really sad that you're leaving, but it is sad. It's totally true that there are bigger and better things ahead of you, but you should still remember where you came from. Your high school built you into the person you are, for better or for worse. And as much as you might think you hate it now, next year you'll look back on it and realize that you have more fond memories than you think. Don't move on too fast, don't stop working hard now, and more than anything, remember to enjoy these last few weeks. Make sure you don't finish your four years with any regrets.