At around this same time last year, all of us were overflowing with excitement as the seniors before us graduated, leaving us as the new top dogs of the school. Since freshmen year, we had dreamed of having the confidence and certainty that all seniors seemed to have. We couldn’t wait for some of the perks that only seniors get to experience, like being able to sit in the front row of the student section at sporting events or getting to lead a certain sport or activity. Four years later, some of our expectations were met, and some of them, well, were not. Yes, being a senior was awesome, and yes, the perks were everything we thought they would be. The confidence and certainty, though? They didn’t just magically appear because we were seniors. As freshmen, we could only dream of graduating, but as seniors, graduation loomed closer and closer all of the time.
Now that graduation has finally approached, some of us feel ready, some of us feel panicked and some of us don’t know what to feel. The truth is that we failed to realize what senior year would really be about. It was awesome being leaders of the school and getting special privileges that we had wanted for years, but the reason we got all of those privileges was because it was our last year. Our last year ever decking out in our school colors to cheer on athletes that we had been going to school with since preschool; our last year ever to put on our uniform and go through the familiar warmup routine for whatever sport or activity we were a part of; our last year ever being surrounded by people who knew us and who were always looking out for us. We failed to realize that although senior year is a year full of new perks, it is primarily a year full of lasts.
For me, the "last" last is only a few days away. My last day as a student of the school district that I have known for years, all coming to an end with the switch of my tassel. I have been excited and ready all year to graduate, but I would be lying to say that I have felt confident and certain. Senior year was stressful, and it seemed like there was always something new that needed to be done: applying for colleges, filling out scholarship applications, completing the FAFSA, etc. It was a lot to have to do and a lot to have to worry about, especially on top of schoolwork and activities that we couldn’t just forget about. It was hard to really sit back and let it sink in that everything we had ever known was coming to an end this year. Maybe senior year was packed full of busy things to do so that we didn’t have time to really think about how much our life is going to change in the next few months. We will be leaving our families and friends, our homes, our communities, our schools, and everything familiar behind. We can try to picture how college will go for us, but none of us are really sure what is coming. For me, that will probably be the hardest part. I like being familiar and having routines, and I’ll have to start fresh at college.
I felt ready for every "last" that I have had to experience this year, but that didn’t make the lasts any easier. I cried with my teammates at the end of my sports’ seasons, not because I would miss the sport but because I would miss the memories and traditions I had established with my teammates. I got overwhelmed on my last official day of school, not because I’m not ready to leave it but because it just didn’t seem possible that I could seriously be done. Lasts are tough, no matter how prepared or ready we may feel for them, and saying goodbye is never easy. Saying goodbye to the place where we have all grown so much is going to be hard, even if we feel excited and ready.
I have news for you, though. High school was just a stepping stone to prepare us for college or the next step in our lives. We grew a lot in high school, both physically and mentally. A lot of us discovered our passions or what we want to do in life, and we can forever be grateful to high school for that. However, college will be the place where we can truly shine and reach our fullest potential, if we give it the power to be that place for us. I want to go to college and use what I learned about myself in high school to become the person that I have dreamed of being since a young age. High school was a stepping stone in my life that I will always be grateful for, but I know that college will be the stepping stone that propels me into the life that I want to have.
Like I mentioned before, saying goodbye is hard. Whether we hated high school or are dreading having to leave it, it will always have a special place in all of our hearts. The days of high school are gone, but the memories will be with us forever. As you step onto the stage at your high school graduation, try not to feel overwhelmed with excitement or sadness. Instead, try to feel thankful. Think about what a blessing it is to be able to miss something. It’s sad and hard to do, but it means that something in your life was special enough that you would notice its absence in your life. High school will certainly be a noticeable absence, as will all of the people we have come to know and love in high school. Be thankful for all of the memories and opportunities you had in high school, and be thankful that you have a future to look forward to. Take a look around you, and remember the last four years of your life. Remember everything that happened in this place. Then, switch your tassel to the left, and say it: goodbye, high school.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons