More specifically to the JH Rose High School graduating class of 2015, but I guess this could apply to anyone.
I should say ConGRADUATIONS are in order (Trust me kids, the puns get worse with age).
You did it! You are finally walking across that stage, which serves as a symbol for leaving high school behind and embarking on the next step of your journey. You have the power to do anything you want. You control your destiny. To thine own self be true (not exactly what that means, but for this case it works), and blah blah blah.
So, many of you are off to college, some off to the military, some off to work, which is awesome for all of you. You don’t always have to follow the straight and narrow. You are about to embark on a whole new journey in your lives, and for most of you, I’ll be honest, it will be scary as hell.
Now, I’m sure some of you are saying this and thinking, “But Elizabeth, I’l be fine in college or wherever I’m going because I did fine in high school.” I understand your reasoning because I’ve been there too, but life after high school is a WHOLE different ballgame. So, I’ve made a list of some advice that I wish I had known before going off into the world. However, I will say that even if I had known all of this, I would not have changed much of what I have done in my two years out of high school, but that reasoning comes later.
1. You are no longer a big fish in a small pond. Welcome to the ocean.
In high school, I was never the most popular, but I did alright. I had great friends, a great relationship, my teachers loved me, I made good grades, and I was involved in A LOT. I felt basically on top of the world by the time I graduated. When I came to college, I still had great friends, I still made good grades and I got involved. BUT, so were around 5,000 other people and that’s just the overachievers! You aren’t a hot shot anymore, so don’t act like one unless you don’t want to make very many friends. Stay humble and know that there are a lot of people at school, and that doesn’t make you irrelevant. But it also doesn’t mean you need to be arrogant just because you used to rule your old school.
2. Call home. More than you think you need to.
I cannot stress this one enough. Graduating from high school represents a new found independence with which you do a lot of stuff on your own and no longer rely (completely) on your parents. This new independence is awesome because now, you are in control of basically everything: what you eat, drink, when you sleep, your laundry, who you hang out with, everything. However, sometimes adulting gets overwhelming. It’s hard to do it all on your own. So, call your parents, or whoever from home that makes you feel better. Trust me, you’ll probably need those conversations more than they do.
3. You will mess up.
This point hits home for me especially. After high school, you will face a lot of difficult decisions on your own, and unfortunately, no one can help you with some of them. This is a time where you are shaping yourself- your ideas, values, personality, and what have you. You will be faced with challenges that will make you want to dive into a hole and never crawl out. And sometimes, you make the wrong choice. You say and do the wrong thing and it could be bad. I know. I’ve messed up a few times, and a couple of those times have caused severe damage or complete loss to a couple of friendships I valued dearly. It is in inevitable, no matter how carefully you tread.
4. It’s okay to mess up. Actually, you should mess up.
Those things I mentioned in the previous point, I still have regrets about. Regrets exist. They suck and you should try to let them go but it is seriously very hard to do. “No regrets” is just not a way that I can live. But, I have learned so much from the mistakes that have led to regret, that have led to complications and loss and me feeling like I suck and nothing more. But, this is so vital in your growth as a person. Messing up is a fact of life and it is up to you in how you handle it. So, I say, take it as a learning experience, so that you will either never make that mistake again or just have better decision making skills. Don’t go looking for mistakes to make and also don’t use this as an excuse to justify anything illegal or just plain wrong. However, learn.
5. Don’t lose who you are. Because if you do, it’s gonna suck whether you know it or not.
Life after graduation gives you a fresh start. You can basically become anyone you want, and hopefully this means that you will choose to be exactly who you are and no one else. You will still make friends, just in case you were worried about that. Trust me, I’m kind of a weirdo and I have definitely come into my own while away at college. However, if you begin to hide, or continue to hide behind an artificial “mask” you’ve created for yourself, you will be MISERABLE. Trust me. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. Life will suck. Because, when the time you need to have real talk, your “friends” may not be interested in anything you are. They may not care. So, stick to your guns and stick to yourself. Love yourself and people will follow.
6. Not everyone is going to like you. Deal with it because it is definitely okay.
Last but not least. You may have been loved by basically everyone in high school. But, since you are now in the ocean, you will meet people you don’t care for. And you will meet people who don’t care for you. You know what? That shouldn’t matter. If they don’t want to be your friend, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME! Trust me, I have wasted time on several people. I wanted them to want to be my friend. It was stupid and took up so much of my time that I could’ve used in developing relationships with people that were actually worth it.
So, theres my little spiel. Good luck, Class of 2015. I hope you do great things.