An Open Letter to Graduating High School Seniors

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To the high school class of 2017,

Just a week ago, I moved home after my first year at Boston University. While I relaxed a little and ran a few errands for my mom, you were all finishing your final classes of high school. Now, Sunday morning, as the prom photos come rolling in from all angels, I can’t help but get a little sentimental as I recall the end of my senior year and the surrounding festivities. As I’ve reconvened with my friends who have also been away at school, routine catch-up sessions become moments of reflection, as we discuss how “time flies.”

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Looking back on my freshman year of college, it’s difficult to imagine how just 9 months encapsulated so much personal growth and life changes. High school is not the sum total of your life experiences, nor is it the end of your life experiences. In talking with my brother – who is still a sophomore – and with my friends queuing to become alumni in just a week, I have rediscovered the effort it takes to think beyond current circumstances.  A symptom of the same problem, I can no longer think back to my own high school days with the same feeling of submersion I so effortlessly held during that time. Effectively, there are a few things that I wish I had done in the months following graduation that would have helped to slow down the inevitable transition to college.

First – and I know this is cheesy – I wish I had taken more pictures. As I scrolled through photos, scanning for loved ones Don’t post all of them to Instagram just yet; you might need them for a birthday post midway through the year. Keep those prom pictures on hold for a throwback Thursday, and save those late-night summer photos for framed editions in your dorm. Trying to think back to last summer, much of my memories revolve around countless trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target in search of the makings of a homey dorm room. What I wish I could remember are the times that I stayed up late drinking wine and chatting with my friends. These friends were – not to be morbid –facing a limited life expectancy. Soon enough, they would become my “friends from home” or be erased from my friend list completely. Having pictures of these nights, and keeping them off the internet (employers do see these things), would help remind me of these happy times.

Moreover, as your freshman year of college goes on, you will make new friends, potentially even start dating seriously for the first time. You will take challenging classes that demand much more of your free time. Remember that your friends who have yet to graduate don’t have this same experience and that your peers are just as overwhelmed with the same experience. In effect, lower your expectations for these older friendships. Now, that doesn’t mean care any less about these people – just keep realistic standards for communication. It’s much more difficult to maintain the near constant contact characteristic of high school friendships. Talking to your friends from home on a daily basis is feasible at the beginning of your first semester, however, as the year goes on, new, more immediate friendships will begin to develop and classes will become more demanding. It’s ok to let your friendships from home drop in importance, so long as you understand that distance often does make communication more difficult for friendships. When you return home for Winter break, you will see that the remaining friendships are the ones that can thrive on routine, occasional conversation throughout the semester and enthusiastic, loving reunions in homecomings.

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So, enjoy graduation and enjoy this Summer. Take your time as you adventure around your hometown with your “friends from home.” Don’t rush away from the starting line as soon as you throw your cap in the air; let that feeling of accomplishment linger a little bit. And, if you can, let your parents pay for as much food as possible – you’ll be glad you did after eating in the dining hall for three meals a day.

– Alex

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