Going into my senior year of high school, I was told numerous times that it would be a breeze. Many of the people who graduated the years before I said my senior year was the every day year of high school, and I thought they would be right. However, I soon found out they were completely wrong. If anything, senior year tested me in more ways than one, and it was the hardest year of my high school career.
There were many sleepless nights, many Starbuck's dates with friends to get work done, and many tears shed during mental breakdowns. College applications on top of AP classes on top of extracurriculars made senior year extremely overwhelming. Looking back as a college freshman, though, I've come to realize that certain parts of my senior year were not worth the tears and stress, especially after understanding how little they matter in college and the real world.
Pushing yourself over the limit for a "perfect" ACT or SAT score is not worth the mental turmoil
I took those required standardized tests so many times that I would get nervous the night before each one. It seemed like a competition to get the best score among my classmates, and that added so much unnecessary stress to my already overwhelmed nerves. While those scores are important for college applications and scholarships, no one you meet in college really cares if you scored high on those tests. They truly do not matter beyond the college process, and pushing myself beyond my limits was not as worth it as I had thought while in high school.
The people who talk about you behind your back aren't your friends, and they don't matter in the real world
I'm extremely guilty of letting others and what they think of me get under my skin, especially when I was in high school. Seeing the same people nearly every day made me think that everyone had to like me, which I now know is not a reality. Not everyone will be your best friend, and that's OK too. The things they say about you don't matter by a long-shot in college because there are so many more things to dwell on in life. I wish someone would've told me to quit wasting my time on people who clearly were not good for my well-being because they aren't even an afterthought nowadays.
Those cliché events in high school - go to them
I thought many of the small traditions at my school were pointless and dumb. Many times, I would attempt to get out of going to them until my friends or parents practically forced me to go. Looking back on it now, I'm extremely grateful to those who pushed me to go to them because they have become some of my favorite memories. Homecomings, retreats, field days - go to all of them, if you can. I know how cliche they seem now, but being there with your friends and acting completely your age turned out to be some of my favorite moments. You'll regret it so much if you don't experience them.
You're best friends in high school don't have to go away once you graduate
Although you may not go to the same colleges, your best friends can still be there for you - if you put in the effort. Making sure you solidify your friendships in high school is a great way to ensure that you'll keep in touch for years to come. Go to their house, take trips to the mall or have girls night every weekend. Don't let the moments pass you by because soon enough distance will keep that from happening for a while. Enjoy your time now before it becomes limited during college, but don't assume you will never get time with your best friends back.
There is nothing wrong with taking a "mental health day" if you are overwhelmed
This isn't to say ditching school should become a regular thing, but if you are too stressed to function, take a day to yourself. Pushing your mind to its limits will do more harm than good, so take a little time to recoup and prepare yourself for the upcoming days. I promise, no one cares about perfect attendance in college.
But missing too much school isn't good either
I know this sort of counteracts the previous point, but missing too much school is not a good habit to get into either. Take days to yourself when you need them, but don't get into a habit of always ditching classes. Missing out on lessons will make you even more stressed out. Plus, attendance is one of the factors colleges will look at - so, get into the groove of keeping up with your classes at a healthy pace.
Get involved in the extracurriculars that interest YOU, not the popular kids
Wanting to be involved in musical theatre and choir was definitely not the popular opinion among my peers, but I am forever grateful for my time spent doing what I love. I met some of my best friends who I still keep in touch with today because I chose to do what I wanted. Spend your high school career creating the best version of yourself possible, regardless of what to so-called "popular" kids may think. Don't push yourself to do things that will look good on college applications if you absolutely hate it. I swear you'll end up where you're meant to be.
Give it all you've got - the payoff will be amazing
"Senior slide" is incredibly real, and doing your homework or giving all of your efforts can become difficult. DO NOT GIVE INTO SENIOR SLIDE. AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS. That's easier said than done, but don't completely give up on your studies just yet. Most colleges still care about your GPA during your last year of high school, so keep pushing yourself to get it done! You'll feel even more proud of yourself once you get that diploma, knowing all of the hard work that YOU did got you to that moment.
Make time for your family because soon enough, you won't see them everyday
One of the things I was most excited about my senior year was to get out of my house and be on my own. Let me tell you, it is one of the best and worst things about college. At times, it's great to be independent, but soon enough you'll be feeling a little homesick and wishing you could give your mom the biggest hug. So, make time for your family while you still have it. They might get under your skin, but soon those annoying moments will be what you yearn for most once you've moved away.
I know it's overwhelming now, but I promise there's a happy ending in store
As I've said before, there were plenty of days where high school got the best of me. The social and academic sides of high school often became too overwhelming and I thought I wouldn't be able to make it to the other side. After graduating and seeing all I've accomplished in four years, I now know that you will make it out OK. Don't let the stress and anxiety come out on top because you are capable of anything you set your mind to. Keep going!
Keep pushing, seniors. You will make it out alive, I promise.