2017. What. A. Year. We were thrown some natural disasters and a brand new president; there was a solar eclipse, the shutdown of Vine and SO much more. But pushing the news aside and thinking more personally, 2017 was a huge year of change. Being the typical teen that I am, I am a huge fan of the app VSCO, and on the app I often see a picture shared that says, "This time last year, everything was so different." While this can be true pretty much whenever you think about it, I believe that this quote is especially true this year. Given that, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and revisit all that 2017 gave me, and what 2018 might have in store for all the high school seniors out there. Let's begin, shall we?
For some, this was the time that some of the final college applications were due. For me, this was when I was hearing back from the last of them. Whatever part of the application process you're in, it is probably accompanied with plenty of nerves and seemingly endless waiting (unless you're one of those lucky early decision accepts who already has the security of knowing where they're going). National Decision Day for colleges tends to be May 1st, but if you still don't know where you want to go in the early months of the year, don't fret! By February 2017, I had heard back from both my top choices, but was still unsure. In cases like this, I highly recommend going to any admitted or accepted student days that your potential schools offer; that helped a lot for me!
College itself aside, while all the "lasts" began on your first day as a high school senior, they definitely start to kick into higher gear. Whether its standing beside your friends for that final winter pep rally (my favorite pep rally), or having your final winter play rehearsal or winter sports game, that little odd feeling that everything you know is going to change soon definitely begins to rear its head. However, it's still far enough away that it feels unreal especially while you sit through your final high school midterms and snow days. Some of your friends (or maybe even you) could begin to develop the dreaded seniorits, though it is a bit early for that diagnosis.
Moving into the springtime, the fun only increased. More and more people began to turn 18 (including myself) and all of a sudden, you realize you're sitting in a class of (technically) adults who still have to ask permission to use the restroom, but that's beside the point. At this time, a lot of colleges have made their acceptances and more and more university sweatshirts and lanyards begin to pop up around school. National Decision Day begins to get closer and closer, but again, know that it's totally okay to take a deep breath and really take time to decide what it is you want before you commit. In late April, after attending another accepted students day, I did finally make the decision about where I would go to college and the relief that came from knowing (even if I didn't know for what) where I was going was incredibly welcome.
The springtime also seems to be when a lot of school sports and activities like to take their trips. Whether its just a few minutes or an entire day of travel, anyone who's been on a school trip can agree that those days account for some of your best and craziest memories. Some of the language students from my school went off on exchange trips abroad during this time. Other teams traveled for competition, as did the music department. As I was a member of my high school's choir, I went to Nashville for a few days for an adjudication, and of course some exploration. Upon our return, the crunch to get ready for the dreaded AP tests was on.
These were the main months of celebration and freedom. They also brought about many, many lasts.
May kicked off with senior prom and was followed by the beginning of grad party season. Somewhere stuck in there were the infamous AP exams, but once they were over, school work became even less of a stress. Many school activities have different graduation or end-of-year traditions. May and June were when I attended my final banquets, cleared out my (not-often-used) locker and signed my name on the wall of our props closet, one of the traditions my school's theater department has for graduating seniors. Oh, and I graduated high school. Afterwards, my friends and I all went to lunch with our families at one of our favorite restaurants and giggled as we finally friend requested all of our teachers on Facebook (don't pretend like you aren't waiting for this moment).
If you're lucky enough to have had a really good high school experience like I did, these months are filled with lots of tears, picture-taking and nights spent reminiscing. If your school has a senior week or senior trip tradition, you might go on that around this time too. My school typically has senior week, where people go to various beaches after graduation (not necessarily together, but it's often at the same time). My friends and I went away for a few days and had a wonderful time together. Really, if you are able, I highly recommend you do the same.
Grad parties and goodbyes seemed to be the themes of these months. When I wasn't soaking up the last time I had with my friends, I was working or dorm shopping but as I'm sure many of us did, I tried to not waste any opportunities to see people, even if they weren't going to be too far away once school started. I made sure to visit my favorite restaurants in my hometown and I went on my annual beach vacation with my family. It seemed that pretty much everyone else was doing the same. There are a LOT of "see you laters" accompanied by long hugs and promises of kept-up communication, a lot of college "what-ifs" and an overload of anticipation. You're on the cusp between two huge chunks of your life, just kind of floating in the middle, not knowing anything. Most people move into college in August; I did the same. I entered the overwhelming world of newness and I began to build a whole new world.
Boy, oh boy, were these months a culture shock. Suddenly I lived on a floor and not in a house, I didn't have AC, I had classes (but only a few each day and I actually liked all of them) and I ate in a dining hall every day. It was independence, but in a way I had never imagined. Depending on what school you pick, it's going to be different as some schools are more immersed in their community than others, but it felt like my whole world was now my campus and our Main Street, plus anything I could reach by train. I guess it wasn't that different than living in the same little town your whole life, but having a NEW little town is just that − new.
Given all of the lasts that had been thrown my way the rest of the year, it was refreshing − if not a bit shocking − to be given so many firsts and so many new things all at once. While I do admit that it was overwhelming a lot of the time, by the end of October, I felt as if I had found a rhythm I could keep up for the rest of the semester. I, along with some other people I met, found a part-time job nearby school and found an activity that fit me. I was starting to make a life at school.
November had many students (myself included) counting down to Thanksgiving break. Nothing was wrong; everyone just seemed a little burnt out. Spring course selection was also thrown into the mix and boy, is that a stressful time. Eventually, I made it home. No matter what type of college experiences people were having, I think my friends and I all found a bit of relief in living close to each other (and, you know, being able to drive places) again, even if it was only for a few days.
Then, it was back to school for a few weeks. And what did those weeks bring? Utter. Chaos. There were final exams, final projects and final papers. There were end of semester events and last minute floor meetings; there was an extreme lack of sleep. But eventually, it was time to go home! Back to working at my job from home (which a few others decided to do, too, because why pass up the opportunity?), my own bed, my friends living a quick car ride rather than a train or plane ride away and of course, a bathroom where I can shower without shoes on.
As I said at the start: What. A. Year. 2017 has been a year of insane change for me, as I'm sure it has been for many. And while a lot is definitely different now, and quite confusing at times, I am optimistic about where I am headed and I can't wait to see what 2018 has to offer. If 2018 is your high school graduation year, make the most of it! You're in for a wild ride, but really, it's all just getting started.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash