So You Graduated, Now What?

So You Graduated High School, Now What?

The day we never thought would come has officially become a thing of the past. So what's next? Where do we go from here? Well that's the beauty of the unknown, it's completely up to us to find out.

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You did it.

You graduated.

Now what?

You've spent the last several years of high school wishing for the moment you'll get to walk across that stage and put that chapter of your life to a close. Well those years are up and I'm afraid to say that the minute we walked across that stage, the future became a lot more real.

Four years later and we've become a completely different person than who we were the first time we stepped through our high school's intimidating doors. We've learned, loved. and unknowingly made a couple memories that'll last a lifetime. Of course, it wasn't high school without a few embarrassing moments and mistakes here and there. Remember when that mortifying thing happened and you honestly thought you would never be able to make it through the year? Well look at you now! Chances are that high school was the era of "firsts:" your first bad grade, heartbreak, boyfriend/girlfriend, time skipping school, driving, and everything in between. Yet even in the midst of both the good and bad experiences, I don't think we would have had it any other way.

Maybe high school wasn't "it" for you, maybe it was dreadful to wake up every morning and go to a place where you just didn't feel happy. Guess what? That's perfectly okay. Not a single one of us had the same exact high school experience and while some of us may occasionally sit and reminisce of those times, others may lock up the past behind them and look forward. No matter where we are in life, we'll always find that time to experience highs and lows, make new friends, and have a chance to learn more about our own self. Whether that be in college, the workforce, or anywhere our path decides to lead us on.

As good as it may have been, its over and like I said before, you graduated, now what?

What comes next is a whirlwind of new emotions. You'll feel nostalgic for your old group of friends and the feeling of being on top of the upperclassman hierarchy, or maybe anxious that you'll be at a brand new place where no one knows your story, but maybe that gives you a sense of relief to have a clean slate. You'll slowly start to be 100% in control of your life and actions and it can be both the best and worst thing of your life.

Use this summer to your advantage. Take up a hobby you had always wished to do, read and write and create, spend time with your friends and family, maybe take a road trip or two, try a summer job and save up for the future, take this long-awaited time and allow yourself to spread your branches a little.

For most of us it may seem like the rest of our life is already planned out: go to college, study hard, get a job, and be successful, if only it was that easy. Not to be a cliche but we really are only this young once and now's the time to live for us and give ourselves that stereotypical teenage movie life we've secretly always wanted to experience. So do it: have a bonfire, drive and get lost, spend the day at the lake, do all those things you've thought about doing. Next year will most-likely be a completely different world to you, whether you decide to stay close to your roots or uplift yourself to somewhere new.

No one can predict the future. We have no way of knowing where we'll end up in even as short as a year. With each chapter coming to a close, opens a new one filled with opportunity and potential. We'll form new relationships, change locations a few times, and even do things that would make our past selves shake their heads in disapproval. But you know what? That's all a part of life and while we may not realize it in the moment, these small and/or large changes will help define who we become as we step into the world of adulthood.

I don't know about you but as someone who barely graduated last week, I'm terrified. I'm a college bound student and the idea of leaving my mundane life behind and starting over is something I can barely comprehend. All my friends will be scattered across the state and texts and phone calls will become the new way of having them in my life. However, as terrified as I may be, I'm also counting down the days until I walk on to a campus with over 30,000 students and build myself up to be even better than who I was before. Maybe I'll join new clubs or make unlikely friends or even play in some intramural sport and I think that the fact I have the chance to do so will make all the eventual home-sick blues worth it.

So here we are, freshly graduated students who are eager to seek our the world in front of them and probably have no idea what's to come. If we're anything at all, call us nervous, confused, dream-filled, ecstatic, and all things eager. Because while we may not have a clue at what may lie ahead, it definitely won't stop us from going and finding out ourselves.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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