Dear former classmates,

It's been a few weeks since we graduated from high school. At first, I thought that it wouldn't truly hit me until August when I pack up my things and start the next chapter of my life. However, I was wrong. The transition seems more and more natural every day, and yet I still think of you and what the future holds for all of us.

First of all,

Thank you. Thank you for the best and hardest years of my life so far. You all were my best friends, my bullies, my competition, and some of you were just acquaintances. We may have experienced more strife than average classmates, but I don't think that the friction we underwent was devastating. In fact, I think that conflict made us stronger. It taught us how to fight, makeup, get over it, and face confrontation. I learned that you can't trust everyone, but that makes finding trustworthy friends so much more comforting.

Next,

I implore you to go with your gut because your dreams usually aren't far behind. Our school always pushed us to know exactly what we wanted in the future and because of that, many of us were not able to explore the possibilities. But it's not too late. You don't have to follow the typical post-graduation plan to be legitimate, all you really have to do is keep going. If you love art, music, dance, theater, fashion, or any of the other career paths that have never been accepted as career paths, please take a chance. This is the beginning of everything and you owe it to yourself to turn over every rock that interests you.

Lastly,

Be kind. That may be the hardest thing of all to hear. We know to work hard, stay sharp, show up five minutes early, but there is no class in kindness. If I could go back to my freshman year and do it all over again, I would prioritize my heart over my mind. Don't get me wrong, there is value in diligence, late night study sessions, and pushing yourself to do your very best work. People, however, should always come first. We leaned on each other, but we also made a lot of mistakes. In this next part of your life, I challenge you to love others in a way that is more important than your own abilities and talents.

Wherever you all are headed, I hope that you find the people and things that make you feel most alive.

Goodbye and good luck.

Love,

Lilly