High School: A Memoriam

I’ve been absent from my blog the past two weeks for one major reason: I’ve just graduated high school (cue fireworks). It’s amazing how slow these past thirteen years seemed to me though, as I was sitting among my classmates waiting to hear my name called to receive my diploma, I realized that they had truly–as everyone had told me all along the way–passed by in the blink of an eye. From my first day of kindergarten to my final day sitting among my classmates, so many things had happened to me, molding me into the person I am today.

Most of my life-changing experiences thus far have happened during the four short years I spent in high school and I would like to share them all with you today. Whether you’re a real grown-up and completely done with school, an older person who’s lived to see many things, or a rising freshman in high school, this post is for you.

Not all friends are forever.

When I began high school, I bridged up from a middle school that I had only been at for  one year. Unlike most of my friends, I did not know everyone since the early days of elementary school and, although this was true, I still felt very close to my best friends as I would have had I spent all three years at the same middle school. We all went to high school with the same idea: to meet boys, look cute, take fun classes, and remain best friends through graduation. In most cases, this did not happen.

Graduating high school now, I actually sat beside a girl that I have known since my first day of eighth grade; she shares the same last name with me. Although I had hardly spoken to her in a year or two, we were able to easily carry on conversation all throughout the ceremony. In high school, you learn the difference between “friend” and “acquaintance.” You shuffle through friends quickly as your classes change on the regular. You lose friends, and sometimes in ways that aren’t so great.

One of my best friends as a freshman I haven’t spoken to since the ninth grade. We broke off–and rather nastily–before the second half of our first semester in high school. Our differences were realized and inevitable, and we ended up fighting, ultimately ruining the friendship.

You learn what you truly want in a friend. As you grow, you learn that you’d much rather hang out with people you feel comfortable with, can share common interests in, and confide in. I began high school wanting friends that could give me a social advantage or keep old friends I’d had in middle school. I quickly learned how uncomfortable I felt around the “popular” kids because I was so different from them, and I finally realized that not all of my friends from middle school were compatible with the person I was and was becoming.

It’s okay to lose friends through time because, in the end, you have a small circle of people you love and trust and, at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important.

Procrastination may save your ass, but it won’t save your grade.

High school provides most teens with a skill that they carry on into their adulthood: procrastination. I hate it. Even though I actively participate in this addictive state of mind, I hate the feeling of dread as deadlines approach. I’m a relatively good bullsh*tter when it comes to some things, but I’m not the best at pulling off everything last minute, and I’m sure that’s how most people are anyway.

Procrastination only works to save you the wrath of a zero in the grade book or disappointed teacher, but it doesn’t keep your grade where you want it, and it works the same way in the real world. Most adults (teachers and bosses) can easily see through last-minute work and it’s the responsible ones that call it out. There are teachers that will accept anything and give you an A, but it’s the teachers that grade harshly based off performance that are truly preparing you for the real-world. Not everything can be done last minute and it will bite you in the ass eventually.

You learn to appreciate the teachers that care.

You will have teachers that simply don’t give two sh*ts. Some people don’t believe it when you say it, but there are teachers out there that only have the job to have a summer vacation or to coach. Yes, I’m calling out all you crappy social studies teachers I had that only taught in order to coach a sports team. You will have teachers that teach you nothing and will give everyone’s project an A regardless of what they earned. You learn that life isn’t fair. At all. This sucks too. You work hard, you deserve the grade; if you cheat, you deserve to fail. So when you finally come across a teacher that turns in kids who plagiarize their English papers, you finally understand the meaning of quality. These teachers truly care about fairness and recognize a job well done and don’t allow students to get away with anything that might jeopardize the students who work hard. As a freshman and sophomore, most students’ immaturity fogs their minds from recognizing these teachers because, in their heads, “all teachers suck”, but as you grow into a more mature being, you truly begin to appreciate those teachers that care enough about their students to do the right thing.

Time really does fly by.

It’s something your parents have been telling you since you were five and constantly asking if you were there yet. It’s something you began to slowly realize as you finished elementary and middle school, but it’s when you’re walking across the stage, shaking hands with your high school principal, that you finally understand the meaning of the phrase “time flies.” I don’t know about you, but I remember my first day of kindergarten. I remember each grade pretty vividly. Throughout my entire school career I kept envisioning college as something far off in the future and now, for me, it’s just a mere two months away. At twelve I visited The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the first time and, like it is between some couples, I found out what it was like to be truly be in love. I told myself I had a long way to go. I knew it was a far way off. As of right now, though, I have four weeks until orientation at the school of my dreams.

Suddenly the real world is at your front door, banging on the heavy wood, and you are on the other side, instead of sheltered in your bedroom at the back of the house like you had been for many years.

High school seems pretty pointless as you work your way through it, but once it’s all said and done, if you’ve opened your eyes enough, you finally understand why you have high school: you learn how to mature into an adult that’s able to survive without living under their parents’ roof, you understand the importance behind responsibility, you know the difference between quantity and quality, and you learn to live in the moment. That’s my final point. Time passes you by in a whir and you find that you’re too busy worrying about your future, because that’s all your parents and teachers have told you to focus on, but take a moment out of each day to breath and appreciate that exact moment in time. Put down the camera and enjoy the time with friends. Leave your phone at home for a day and explore the neighboring city with some friends. Drink hot tea in your local coffee shop and just watch the people around you, because people are very interesting individuals, and you’ll find that people watching can be way better than a cable subscription.

Whether you took (or take) high school in the same context that I did, I guarantee you that high school taught you a number of things that you will build off of throughout the rest of your life, and that’s bound to be important in the long run.

I am more than appreciative for the four years I spent in high school, and I’m beginning to realize that more and more as my last day of high school dwindles further and further into my past.

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