Dear Class of 2016,
The day we thought would never arrive is finally here. And for as long as I can remember, I have been the one who couldn’t wait to graduate. I couldn’t wait to go to college and start over. To make new friends. To get to know some of my current friends better in college. To pursue my dreams. To continue my life. To explore my passions. But, as I stand here looking back on the mountain of finals, stress, APs, SATs, proms, homecomings, and pep rallies that was high school, I am realizing that, at some point, I’ll begin to miss it. But, for now, I am excited, because, for the most part, I hated high school. I will miss parts of it, but I am honestly glad to be moving on.
I’ll miss my friends who really were always there for me, despite anything I may have said, or thought, on the contrary. Who supported me through my 4 APs Junior year and struggled with me through calculus. I’ll miss my teachers who taught me so much about life. Who helped me discover my true passions, and who helped me rediscover my old love for certain subjects. I’ll miss my synchronized swimming coaches who kept me physically fit but drove me mentally insane. I’ll miss my friend who asked me everyday for homework help. Whether it was AP Chem, math, Comp, or even Spanish (which I definitely couldn’t help her with), even though she drove me crazy. I’ll miss my first non Quizzing guy friend who made my life more stressful than it needed to be by calling me at midnight asking for help with Calc or Bio or Stats or whatever, but who was actually a quality guy despite the thousands of contrary examples that surrounded him. Who was so obsessed with aliens that it drove me crazy, but with whom I also had so many deep conversations about life and the future. I’ll miss the fun we all had. I’ll miss the familiar hallways where I no longer get lost. I’ll miss the pool that was always so cold, but where I made many memories and pulled many muscles. I’ll miss the many AP Chem labs I messed up, the AP Bio dissections, the laughter at the rules the administration made that we refused to follow because of their stupidity and our own, the people, and the memories. I’ll miss everything it means.
Because high school means comfort, despite the fact it never felt like home. The familiarity and structure of it all is comforting. I always knew what was expected of me, where to go, and what to do. And once I walk that stage, I’ll no longer have that. Sure, I’m going to a college whose campus I grew up in and around and whose people I am familiar with, but it’s not the same. It will never be the same. I’ll miss high school because graduating means leaving. It means leaving Quizzing, a ministry that has impacted my life more than anything, impacted me more than words could ever describe. It means leaving the people I have spent so many years surrounded by, whether good or bad. It means changing my routine that has been set for 13 years. It means no longer being able to text or call my friends to ask what the homework was, or how to do that one question, or if they want to go on a coffee date or impromptu trip to the library or Panera. It means becoming a freshman again, lost and confused, with no familiar faces in sight. It means saying goodbye to friends. My underclassmen friends who I’ll miss dearly. My friend since kindergarten who has put up with me for 13 years (which can not have been easy). My friends who have gotten me through so much. My friends who I just met this year who I wish I had talked to sooner. But, leaving also means happiness and joy.
It means finally seeing my hard work pay off. It means pursuing my dreams and becoming who God has called me to be. It means having new, unimaginably amazing experiences. It means making new friendships, and seeing old ones grow. It means living.
So, to the class of 2016, good luck. Good luck in whatever your future holds. Allow your experiences and time spent in high school to be carried with you throughout your lives. Remember the positives. Allow the negatives to change and impact you. Never forget the friendships you had and the memories you made. As you move on with your life, don’t forget your past, but build yourself an amazing future. Build yourself a future that, when you look back in 50 years, will make you smile. Be kind to anyone and everyone you encounter. Leave a mark in the world so bright that when others see it they’ll remember your beautiful spirit and unbridled joy. Pursue your dreams. Fulfill your purpose. Know that you are loved, and that you matter. Know that God’s got an unfathomable purpose for you. Know that who you were in high school is not who you have to be. Understand that leaving high school does not mean your life is ending, it means it’s just beginning.
Today was filled with many lasts. The last time you opened your locker. The last time you saw your favorite teacher or your best friend. The last time you walked through that hall or passed by that classroom. The last time you walked your best friend to class while laughing about the annoying freshman and complaining about that teacher. The last time you hung out in your favorite teacher’s classroom. The last day you sat and laughed with some of your best friends. The last day of your 13 year long school career. But, the future is filled with so many firsts. Your first day of college. Your first class that’s so stressful you’ll want to cry. Your first class that you’ll fall so much in love with you’ll wish it will never end. Your first time leaving home and really being on your own. Your first real all nighter. Your first love. Your first time you won’t be able to call your mom for every little thing. Your first new best friend. Your first career. Your first child. It’s the start of the rest of your life. A life filled with so many wonderful moments, both good and bad. Embrace this change, but never forget the memories you have made.
So, to the class of 2016, good luck. I’m proud of you, and I sincerely wish you all the best. I hope you fulfill all your dreams. And thanks for making these past four years amazing, beautiful, stressful, terrible, and unforgettable.
A fellow curious, wondering, excited, and terrified senior