7 Things I Learned After Graduating High School
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7 Things I Learned After Graduating High School

Turns out, I didn't know as much as I thought.

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graduating class

For some high school seniors, the final year of high school doesn't feel very final at all. Until those last few precious weeks of your high school career, senior year can just feel like another year... with about a hundred new post-high school things to stress over. However, once those last days do arrive, you realize everything truly is coming to a close.

You eat your last lunch in the cafeteria, take your last high school final, and clean out your locker. You've learned everything that the twelve years of mandatory schooling could teach you. You are ready to conquer the world. With a handshake and the turn of a tassel, it's all over. You've graduated high school! Now what...

As it turns out, I have found myself nearly missing high school since graduating in May. It's an odd thought, I know. Perhaps what I really miss is the promise of a comfortable, well-known environment next fall. I have found myself in a sort of limbo between being a senior in high school and a freshman in college.

This is an admittedly confusing point in life. I've belonged to one establishment for the majority of my life. I've run my life on the bell schedule of my school. Now, that's gone, never to return. So, in honor of my fellow class of 2019 graduates (whoop, whoop!), here are 7 things I have learned while stuck in this limbo between high school and college.

Deleting all of my school alarms wasn't as nice as I thought it would be.

The first night of summer, I cried tears of joy as I pressed that holy red button to delete the five alarms I had set to help wake me up in the morning for school. I was ready to soak in every extra minute of sleep that my senior year had stolen from me, and that's exactly what I did. At first, I relished every morning I got to sleep in. I felt like I was really living. However, sleeping in until 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. soon lost its luster, and I had a harrowing thought: perhaps my alarms were actually good for me.

This is shocking, I know. I thought for sure that my body would reset itself and eventually regulate to a normal human's sleep schedule. My friend, that is NOT what happened. I'm not a heavy sleeper by any means, but in the early weeks of summer, I found myself often sleeping into the early part of the afternoon while the rest of my family has been awake and living their lives for three or four hours. Don't get me wrong, I love my sleep, but the excessive amount I was getting just wasn't good for me. Sleeping in too late threw off my eating schedule, cost me the ability to actually plan out and live through a whole day (which is such a waste of my last summer at home), and ended up making me groggier and more tired.

So, while I'm not saying that you should keep your 6:00 a.m. alarm, I am saying that if you find yourself in a similar situation to me, maybe the safety of a 9:00 a.m. alarm is what you need. You know, that way you don't miss any good waffles in the morning.

Some people really do disappear from your life.

A sad truth, but a truth all the same: people will leave your life SO QUICKLY after high school is over. There are people that I used to talk to every single day that I genuinely have not spoken to since school ended over a month ago. It's strange. How do we go from swearing that our friendship will never die to fizzling out like we were mere acquaintances? The answer is a resounding, "I don't know." Some people travel and forget to reconnect once they come home. Some people go straight to college and skip over summer break. A couple even goes off to military training. There are some people we simply lose touch with, some we realize we didn't actually ever like, and some we realize we were only friends with because of that one weird class we had together.

Whatever the case may be, don't lose hope! Just because you lose a couple of friends here and there doesn't mean your last summer before the rest of your life begins has to be spent alone. Get out there! Call up those friends that you don't want to lose to the evil hands of graduation and go hang out. Grab some food, go wander around Target, go swim. Just go do something. Also, don't forget that, if you're going to college in the fall, you've got an entire university of new people to meet. Go for a campus visit or follow your college's Instagram to see if you make any new connections. Who knows, maybe you could even end up writing articles with some awesome ladies from your new school.

High school did NOT teach me what I really needed to know. 

I know this probably does not shock many people. High school is a very limited amount of time, even though it may feel like it lasts an eternity. There are standards and lists upon lists of things that teachers are bound by the state to teach us, so it's bound to happen that there are lessons that slip through the cracks. However, I didn't realize just how little I knew until I was given my diploma. Let me make a short list of everything I've realized I don't know:

- Checkbooks... are they extinct? Do I need one?

- When exactly does my credit score start? What all factors into my credit score? Just... explain the whole credit thing please.

- How exactly do I use those scholarships I won? Do I get one of those big checks or in this technological age is my free money just sent out there on the world wide web?

- Do I need a credit card? Is it necessary?

- Are online payment companies like Venmo actually safe? Am I getting scammed?

- Where on Earth do I go to vote? In fact, where do I go to register to vote?

Luckily for me, I have a wonderful mother who has answered these questions and more for me. I'm all registered to vote and my credit score looks great, but I'm well aware that not everyone has someone who can answer these questions for them. These are things that are absolutely necessary to living a successful adult life, yet every adult in my life thus far has acted like its something I should have "just figured out." All I'm saying is, maybe replace the mandatory P.E. credit with a mandatory finance class credit.

While I prayed for senior year to be over, my parents have mourned every passing day.

I chose this Gif in honor of my mother, who has eaten approximately 4 pints of Halo Top ice-cream in the past two weeks because my college orientation is quickly approaching (love you, Mom). While the ice-cream eating may not be entirely in honor of me and my impending adulthood, I have become very aware of just how hard this last year of school has been for my mom and dad.

While I was busy living in the hustle and bustle of senior year and enjoying the excitement of my college acceptance letters, my mom and dad were trying to make every minute last as long as it possibly could. I am only now becoming super aware of the fact that I won't be living at home in two months. However, my mom has apparently been taking unknown pictures of me at home just so she can have them when I'm gone.

The moral of this lesson is, go hug your mom and dad. Sit on the couch with them and watch tv. Eat dinner at the table with them every now and then instead of going out with friends. Spend a Saturday at the store with them. It may be your last summer at home, but it's also their last summer with you. Give them some time; they'll treasure it.

Target is my best friend.

I'm just going to give all of my class of 2019 graduates a quick life hack, GO MAKE A TARGET WISH-LIST. You already know that Target has everything you could possibly need for your college dorm, everything from bedding to school supplies to cleaning products. Sign up for a registry with Target and get to adding. Set the "date of event" as the day you move into your dorm. After about a week, Target will give you a 15% discount on everything (yep, everything) on your list.

Also, if you're anything like me, having things in a checklist format makes life easier. With the Target registry app, you can check things off your list as you buy them, even if you don't buy those things from a Target. I realize this part of my list seems extremely sponsored, but it's not, I promise. I just really love my Target registry.

My high school teachers were actually some of my best friends.

The night of my graduation, I found myself in a peculiar state of mind. I walked around the football field and hugged all of the family members who came out to see me. I took pictures with my friends who had survived the past four years with me. I said my goodbyes, but when I went home that night, something felt incomplete. My mom later pointed out that I hadn't seen many of my teachers that night. There were several teachers that I had looked for to take a final picture, but I just missed them. I realized that those very teachers were why I felt my graduation night had been incomplete.

People often say, "You never know a good thing until it's gone." Man, that is so true. I've always gotten along with my teachers, but I failed to realize just how much I truly cared about them until school was over and it became real that I would never have the chance to sit in any of their classes again. I had teachers that became real, true friends.

My teachers acted closer to the real definition of "friend" than some of my high school friends ever did. My teachers were endlessly forgiving. My teachers gave me tough love. They got me where I needed to go and kept my best interest at heart. They were guidance when I needed it.

Shoutout to Dr. Rader, Mrs. Bradford, Mrs. Bright, and Coach Cleek at Carrollton High School. Thank you for everything.

At the end of the day, no one cared about my college decision.

At first glance, hearing that people "didn't care about my college decision" may sound concerning. "But Abigail, isn't your family concerned with your future," you may ask. Yes, yes they are. That isn't the kind of caring I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the kind of caring that comes with judgment, mostly from those wonderful folks I went to high school with. When I started applying to colleges, I only had four schools on my list. In the end, I got accepted to all four schools. That was wonderful, but it also meant my options were way more open than I had thought they would be.

I now had to make a definitive decision. In my mind, a decision from me meant I would have to make a choice that others could judge. I was worried my parents would think I was short-changing myself if I picked a school they didn't feel was good enough. I was mostly concerned though with what people I was in school with would think.

I thought I had to pick the college with the most esteem. In hindsight, this was a ridiculous way to think. Who even decides if a college has "esteem." The only thing that should matter when picking which school to go to is if you feel comfortable there. When I picked what college I would attend, I was , where I was gonna live for the next four years of my life, where I and my family would be investing our money. Was I really about to let people in high school that I haven't spoken to since graduation make that kind of decision for me?

The answer is no. I made the decision that was best for me, and you know what? Nobody cared! It was great. When I chose to go to Jacksonville State, no one came at me saying it wasn't a good enough school or their choice was better than mine. People were just proud of me. They were happy that I was going to college to further my education in the first place. This lesson was probably one of the most important ones that I learned, cause it translates to nearly everything else. If you're ever worried that people are going to judge a decision you make, let go of that worry. Nine times out of ten, people don't want to spend their energy judging you; they truly want to be happy for you.

I know there are only seven things on this list, but it is only June, my friends. There are still two months left of this strange in-between existence where I'm not in high school but also not quite in college yet. Who knows how many other things I could add to this list by the time August comes around.

To all my fellow in-between students out there, keep your eyes peeled for the lessons the world is trying to teach you before the rest of your life begins. Dare I say, they will be worth learning and holding onto as we take these next steps in life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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