With high school rapidly drawing to a close, it’s time to face the fact that for most of us, our lives are going to drastically change in the next three months. Come August we’ll leave behind our houses and our pets, the clothing that we couldn’t fit into storage bins, the posters that have become permanently attached to our walls, but more importantly, we’re going to be leaving behind our friends and our families.
We’ve heard time and time again that high school friendships are meant to disintegrate after graduation, and in a way, there’s some truth to that. With college comes new experiences and new lives, and very often it can be difficult to work our old lives into them. But even if you’re going to be cutting ties with your high school friends after you walk the stage at graduation, there’s no denying that they have played a huge role in our lives – they have been there for every awkward haircut, every failed test, every horrible breakup, and they have taught us more lessons than we will ever know.
1. How to tell when we’re being assholes
Let’s be real here, there are times when we can’t tell that we’ve crossed the line from joking to straight up being a jerk. Thankfully, our high school friends have been here to tap us on the shoulder before things get too out of hand and say, “Hey, I don’t know if you realize how much of a dick you’re being right now, but I definitely do, and if you say that you’re going to ruin something that actually matters.” They have acted as our judgement when we didn’t have any, and they have helped us preserve our relationships with our dignity intact.
2. How to push ourselves
Thank you for teaching us to never give up on ourselves, no matter how much we may want to. Whether they’ve helped us through homework that didn’t make sense or sports drills that made us want to die, our high school friends have been there, pushing us and helping us, every step of the way. Sometimes that meant whacking us over the head until we focused and realized that we were being lazy. Sometimes that meant spending hours doing something that we hated and they probably did too. But they never cared – our high school friends were always willing to help us, but more so than that, they were always willing to teach us how to help ourselves.
3. How to enjoy the time that we have
For every time that they’ve dragged us out of the house to go to parties, to the movies, to coffee or lunch or photoshoots in the park, we are grateful to our high school friends for reminding us that life isn’t always about studying. Sometimes, a night of watching old Nickelodeon cartoons or taking pictures in trees is just as important as spending that extra hour on physics. We’ve learned how to have fun through them, how to enjoy the time that we have and the people that we spend it with, and most importantly, we’ve learned how to really laugh.
4. How to be compassionate
After a while, a solid friend group can start to feel like a family. And whether you’re the mom friend who runs around with hand sanitizer and tissues in their bags, the friend that people call when they’ve just been through the worst breakup of their lives, or the smart friend that everyone begs for help the night before a test, our high school friends have taught us to be responsible for people that aren’t ourselves. They have taught us how to cater to other people’s needs, and they’ve taught us how to be a steadying force when life begins to shake.
5. How to try new things
Thank you, high school friends, for forcing us out of our comfort zones and encouraging us to do things we’d never even considered before, whether that be joining a new sport or going to our first concerts. We’ve learned how to socialize at concerts and parties; we’ve learned how to handle city public transportation without our parents; we’ve tasted different types of food, no matter how spicy. More importantly, we’ve learned that the world will not fall apart just because we’ve done something we were afraid to do.
6. How to laugh when we’re anything but happy
Our high school friends teach us to stop taking ourselves so painfully seriously, to loosen the tight grip on life that we so often have. They teach us how to laugh on days after we’ve had devastating family news, they make us smile when college rejection letters come in the mail, they remind us that not everything matters as much as we think it does when school threatens to overwhelm us. They calm us down when anxiety gets especially bad, and they can always be counted on to shake some happiness into otherwise tense days.
7. How to keep secrets
We all know about the time that your best friend kissed her sister’s ex at a party, or the time that your friend scratched his dad’s car and blamed it on his neighbor. The act of holding secrets teaches a sort of responsibility. It does not matter how good the secret is, it does not matter how much you want to share the intimate details of your best friend’s mom’s affair with her dental hygienist; that secret will go with you to the grave. The secrets of our best friends have taught us how to keep our mouths tightly, firmly sealed.
8. How to share secrets
Sometimes it can be even harder to share our secrets than it can be to keep others' to ourselves. Through sleepovers and late night heart-to-hearts, our high school friends have taught us to open up and to share the secrets we hide about ourselves. Through them we’ve learned the importance of trust and honesty, and through them we’ve learned how to slowly share information about ourselves, and how to accept who we are.
9. How to communicate
It’s a well-known fact that high schoolers are busy, and that often when life gets particularly chaotic, the first thing to be sacrificed is social interaction. There are going to be weeks where you do not see your best friend once; there are going to be large stretches of time where you cannot hang out because the two of you are simply too busy. And that’s okay, because our high school friends have taught us how to communicate well in the brief amount of time that we have for socialization. When school gets in the way of lunch dates we learn how to be better texters; when even that takes too much time, we become masters of Snapchat. We’ve learned how to socialize when there is no time for socialization, and the communication and relationship skills given to us by our high school friends will carry with us into our college lives, where we all know we’ll have even less time.
10. How to be grateful
If you’ve been granted a supportive, uplifting group of friends in the middle of one of the most stressful periods of your life, you know how lucky you are. We’ve faced more changes than we ever had in our lives over the last four years, and we’ve been fortunate enough to go through these changes with our high school friends by our side. As high school draws to a close, we all realize just how important these friends have been, and we realize just how grateful we are for the support given to us.
Lead image credit: Ian Schneider//Unsplash.com