Congrats! You are nearing the end; you have finally made it through the four years you never thought would end. You made it through the dress codes, the late night cramming, the endless extra-curriculars and so much more that made your high school experience unique.
You persevered through the classes where you learned material you knew you would never use again, as well as the early morning classes you never wanted to wake up for. You made it through the drama you thought for sure ruined your life as well as the heartbreak that made you not want to walk the halls again.
These moments are almost gone and in the past, and I am certain you are so excited to leave the place where everyone knows who you are. As the days become numbered, you look forward to independence and a college where you can start all over.
I know you are excited for the future, but please remember what you are leaving behind.
You have passed your last Friday night football game. The next time you return to that stadium, you will be watching from the stands in a different atmosphere. You are coming up on your last dance. You will never shop for a dress that makes you feel beautiful or ask the girl of your dreams to dance with you again.
You won’t be in the student section cheering on your team with your best friends again. You won’t dress up for homecoming again. You won’t be a part of a team with your best friends. All these moments that went by so fast, so quick you didn’t even take time to realize it was your last, are gone.
Soon you will walk out of your high school hallway for the last time as a student. You will empty your locker that you shared with your best friend, who is probably going to some school hours away from you. You will finish your final test with the teacher you hated but they took the time to know your name. You will return your books, your computer, and say goodbye.
Then you will open the doors, so excited to leave the place you called hell on multiple occasions. Perhaps in this moment you will realize that this school will never be the same.
You are now an alumni, and you will never be the same walking in those hallways the way you were for four whole years. You are no longer a student, upperclassman, teammate or friend. Everything changes the moment you walk through those doors.
Soon you will walk across the stage, accept your diploma and say you did it. At that moment, look around. There are so many people you will never see again. The person you did countless projects with is going across the country and might never come back.
The person who lapped you in the mile is now going into the military, and you have no idea when you will see them again. The friends you spent endless Saturday nights with are leaving too. The people you grew up with, the ones who knew your birthday and favorite subject, won’t surround you.
Perhaps you find comfort in leaving familiarity, but remember that these moments are your last. Appreciate them, because when fall comes, everything will change.
You will leave your parents, your pets, your siblings. You are packing 18 years of your life into boxes as you try to gauge how much clothing you’ll need to bring because you have no idea when you’ll be home next.
You are leaving homemade meals and short drives to places you love. You are leaving everything you have ever known. Your parents will go back home, and you will be stuck alone at a place you now have to live at for the next few years of your life.
Professors won’t remember your name after the first semester. You will cry because you changed your major for the third time in four weeks. You have to choose classes that determine your future. Your parents won’t be there for you when you are sick. Your friends won’t be there when you have no one to eat with. You won’t have time to free read or think beyond the realms of school. You will constantly be buried in homework and anxiety. You have to rebuild yourself, by yourself.
So, senior, when you are so ready to go, please take a moment to realize what you are leaving behind. You will not get these moments back. The last dance, test, lunch, game, tailgate – appreciate them. College is amazing and filled with memories, but do not rush these last few weeks; you will never get them back.
The future will come soon enough. As you prepare for “firsts,” you are also approaching your “lasts” – embrace them please.