Congratulations! You’ve made it through high school! All of your work has paid off and you are getting a diploma. You’ll sit and listen to the valedictorian gushes about the wonderful memories you’ve all made together. You’ll clap as the senior class president regales tales of homecoming and prom. You’ll role your eyes as the principal talks about the responsibilities of adulthood. You’re friends and family will cheer when your name is called. You shake hands with education board and the principal and the assistant principals and you get to finally move that tassel (is it left or right?) to indicate that you have reached a major accomplishment in your life. You’ll hug your best friend (friends for life) and kiss your significant other (we’ll always be together) and you’ll have an amazing night.
And then you’ll get up the in morning and realize that it’s over. High school is officially done. Now what?
It’s an okay feeling to have. There might be lots of excitement for the future. There might be some dread that you have no clue what you are going to do with your life. There might be some anxiety over college or the military or your job. It’s all perfectly normal things to experience. As you enjoy your summer and prepare for your future, I hope that you’ll remember the lessons learned from your friends and teachers in high school.
Some friends are worth keeping and some friends are there because of circumstance. I know it’s hard to hear because BBFs and all. I’m still friends with a few people from high school, and yes, one of my best friends from high school is still one of my best friends today. But I rarely talk to other people that I considered close friends in high school. It’s not because we didn’t care for each other, but we grew up and went separate ways. I still remember them fondly and see occasional updates on Facebook, but our lives no longer bring us together on a daily basis. It’s okay to let friends go and make new ones.
Teachers really do care about you. It might not seem like it, and maybe all teachers don’t care specially about you. But I’d bet that every single graduate can point to at least one teacher in high school who genuinely cared about you. That gets more difficult to find as you go into the scary “real world”. Professors and bosses and drill sergeants are more likely to see you as just another number or responsibility unless you do something to make them see more. Be involved, introduce yourself, try as hard as you can, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, don’t be afraid to push yourself and show your dedication. Get to know these people as people, as much as you can, at least. I mean, don’t cross any lines where you will get kicked out or fired. Have some boundaries, of course. My point is, make connections with people and show that you care about what you do.
You will forever be a student. You might not always be in the halls of a school or sitting at a desk, but keep learning. Find things your interested in and passionate about and read about it or listen to podcasts about it or watch YouTube videos. Get involved in local organizations or clubs were you can experience new things. Travel and experience the world because there are so many things out there that are interesting and cool and fun.
Good luck to you all. I wish you all the best whatever the future brings you!
Congrats, class of 2016!!