Dear rising juniors,

First of all, congratulations!! You've made it! You're an upperclassman and halfway through high school, and in 21 months, you will have graduated! What?? That is a serious accomplishment, and I am so proud of you!

But also... now you're a junior. Yeah, I'm sure you've heard all about it - how GREAT junior year is, how much fun and how much of a breeze everything is. Right? (in case you haven't, I have another related article here)

Well, take it from someone who has survived -- it isn't the easiest. In fact, it will be really hard, regardless of your schedule. You will have long sleepless nights where you are staring down a stack of books, and the only thing that will stick in your head is, Why am I here?! Why am I taking these classes?? Can I please drop out and be a stripper??? (and if that's not what is running through your brain, it's probably the lyrics to some song you haven't heard since 2011)

People will heap stuff on you. Seriously, you can't drive your brother to school, meet your boyfriend for breakfast and make the FCA meeting. Your teachers will decide one project isn't enough, so they make it two and a test tomorrow - in three different classes. Oh yeah, you forgot to get all of your in-school service hours for the semester, and you have a math test to make up from when you had a migraine that one time. And student council reallyyyyy needs you to drop off some letters at this radio station in Sandy Springs, can you please???

And finally, you will get that infuriating wave rush over you where you feel like you're running out of time. College in a year and a half??? How do I see my friends, play volleyball and soccer and have a job? And now I have to tour universities? When's naptime? UGH my favorite band is visiting tomorrow??? And does my family even still exist if it's been two and a half months since I've even seen them?? Can we just go to the beach.

But seriously, breathe. All of that is true, and the stress is a thing, but it is not the end-all be-all of your year. From 10,000 feet down, first thing is that it's super cool you're alive. You've been given another year to live and breathe and collect memories, so please don't take that for granted (this is a serious statement here, please remember that it's awesome you're alive). Also, you will be successful even if school is not your strong suit. Don't stress out so badly that you forget your own worth -- there is a job, a family and a future for everyone.

And finally, just stay balanced. Sometimes, you're going to have to choose and say no to something, whether it be going to opening night for a movie in order to study, telling your boyfriend to just Facetime you so that you can have dinner with your mom or even requesting off a few nights from work to just sleep. With so much going on, it is easy to get caught up in EVERYTHING and fall apart without even realizing it, and your mental health is key. With sleep and self-love, you can literally do anything - so please fatten that college resume without hating your life.

Welcome to the upperclassman club!! You've got it from here. And if you feel overwhelmed and lost and scared, just remember that at least, you're not a freshman anymore/yet.

Much love,

A survivor