I’ve seen a lot of articles lately – a ton more than I expected I’d see and I should see – directed at the incoming class of high school seniors. Many of my fellow Odyssey authors have written to you, #Classof2017 - which I guess we all call you at a desperate attempt to relate to your adolescent trends, like putting hashtags in front of literally #everything - instructing you to cherish this last year of your high school career.
They throw country song lyrics at you, telling you “You’re Gonna Miss This,” and they have you missing your classmates before you even settle on what college you’re going to be attending a year from now. I’m assuming all of this is also an attempt to psych you up for the “best year of your life” while encouraging you to stop and smell the proverbial roses during your final year – which is fine.
Get psyched up for senior year. Go to Homecoming football game, go to the pep rallies, dance like fools at Prom with your best friends, kiss that one kid you’ve had a crush on since middle school – do all that crazy stuff you were too scared to do as a freshman, too shy to do as a sophomore and too cool to do as a junior, because, they’re right, it is your last time to do those “high school” activities. But whatever you do, do not get caught up in those Darius Rucker lyrics that “it won’t be like this for long” that’ll have you crying for hours on end when you start thinking about graduation. No, it won’t be exactly like that for long…It’ll be better.
Now, before you go thinking I’m some bitter, jaded loser who hated high school and everything it stood for, let me just say I loved my high school.
I had a fantastic group of friends, I went to all the football games, I went to junior and senior prom and had a blast; I was a part of the best organization a gal could ask for (shoutout to GHS Marching Highlanders); I had a good rapport with my teachers and got good grades. I keep in touch with those people today because they truly did mean that much to me, and they always will.
Did I experience some drama? Well, duh, of course. Did it ruin my good time and should it ruin yours? Absolutely not. But, I had no idea when I was in my soft, cushiony high school bubble, how different – how incredible – my life would become after I left. (News flash: That's how you are supposed to feel.)
The people who try to scare you out of going outside your comfort zone by telling you, "Nothing will ever measure up to that senior year," or who try to convince those were the best four years of a person's life, are miserable in their own college experience. And you know what they say about misery: it loves company. They are the type of people who try to cling to the glory days of high school because they were disheartened with their own college or real-world experience without really giving it a chance.
If you set unrealistic expectations for yourself in college – to get straight A’s without studying, to instantly have that same close-knit group of friends you had in high school, to feel like you’ve found your place the second you step foot into your first college class – of course you’re going to have a bad time and in no way will it measure up to when you were a senior in high school. You’re at the top. You’re the oldest, the wisest, the fiercest; anyone would have a hard time leaving that feeling behind. But that’s all part of growing up and moving on.
Don’t worry: there’s still Homecoming at universities, there’s still clubs and organizations you can find your niche in; there are still football games and tailgates (that are even more fun in college), and there is still that one group of people that will be there for you, through thick and thin, for the next four years and beyond.
When you get there, you can’t be caught up in how it used to be. That’s something I wish somebody had told me long before I ever set foot on a college campus.
You will be so busy, you’ll hardly miss all those silly things you did when you were in high school. (Side Note: if no one has told you the things you do in your high school age years are silly, then wait until you look back on your Time Hop in three years. Take it from someone who has experienced it; it won’t be pretty.) Besides, social media and smartphones make it way easier to post and look back on special moments and stay in touch with your childhood best friends.
Love this last year, cherish these memories and have a great time because it really is a time in your life like no other. And when the time comes for you to graduate and move on from high school, you’re allowed to bawl your eyes out.
But don’t ever be too scared to move forward because you’re afraid it won’t be like high school. It will be nothing like high school, and that’s the beauty of it. More than likely, you’ll always have a soft spot in your heart for your high school, but in another four years, you’ll feel exactly the same way all over again.