By Megan Kenslea
It’s hard to believe that you are graduating high school. After all, you were the freshmen when I was a senior three years ago. In my mind, you are still awkward ninth graders, but in reality, you’re the ones wearing the caps and gowns these days. I’m jealous. My last week of high school was the best. From yearbook signings to prom, grad parties to graduation itself, there was never a dull moment, and the summer that followed was the same.
While it’s important to use this time to prepare for college and the future, it’s also one of the last chances you’ll have to spend with your friends and family before most real world responsibilities set in. I recieved a lot of advice that summer, but there were some things no one told me.
As a gift to you, here is some of the best advice I didn’t receive for graduation:
The Silly Memories are the Sweetest
My favorite memories from the end of high school are also the silliest: the 80’s-themed dance party my friends and I had at my house, the impromptu costume party we had another time when we discovered my old dress-up trunk, and the night I spent reading gossip magazines by headlight flashlight in a park with my best friend.
Savor the small moments with your friends. I don’t remember who had the “cool” parties, or even what the blockbuster movies were that summer. What I do remember is how much fun I had doing ridiculous things with the people I cared about the most.
Make New Friends
It seems counter-intuitive – why make friends if you’re going to leave in a few short months anyway? That’s what I thought, but after graduation, I got to know classmates that I hadn’t known well before, and ended up making some really good friends. I went on a date with a classmate I barely knew, was introduced to a friend of a friend who was attending the same college as me, and reconnected with an old friend from elementary school. Your date might be a total dud (mine was), but as people start to scatter around the country, and the world, you’ll wish you spent more time with them when you had the chance.
Stop Fighting With Your Parents
I may have had a blast spending time with my friends, but living with my parents was a different story. After graduation, I felt so cool. I was finally 18, a legal adult, and I thought that meant I could do whatever I wanted to. My parents had different ideas. I resented them for everything, especially the non-negotiable curfew they enforced. I fought with them all summer, and I wasn’t the only one of my friends to do so.
What I didn’t realize was that as I was itching for more freedom, they were trying to spend as much time with me before I moved out. It might seem like a chore now, but take some time to really talk to them one day – you might have a lot more in common than you think, and chances are, you’ll miss having them around once you’re gone.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fall
I fell a lot in high school, both literally and metaphorically: along with many sprained ankles, fractured wrists, and even a broken tailbone, I also made a lot of mistakes and took risks that didn’t always pay off. However, while I got cut from the school musical and was pretty much a permanent sub on my field hockey team, I also had an article published on a national web site and won awards for my debate skills in Model U.N.
Taking risks may have led to some minor setbacks, but it also led to some very real rewards. Now is the time to try something you’ve always wanted to – start a blog, take a tennis class, or learn how to cook. You might not be good at everything you try, but you could also discover something you really love to do.
Leave High School in the Past
Graduating from high school is an exciting time for most people because it’s a chance to turn over a new leaf. While there are some things you’ll want to hold onto – your friends, your good work ethic, or your favorite pair of jeans – one thing you shouldn’t take with you is emotional baggage. Forget about feuds you had, teachers you hated, or colleges that rejected you. Whether you’re going to college, to work, to the military, or anything else, it doesn’t matter if you were the most popular person in your class or the most reviled.
You have the opportunity to start with a clean slate, so let go of the past and focus on how you can make things even better for the future.