Dear Class of 2017,
Right now your senior summer is about to kick off, and you’re probably feeling unstoppable; I know I did at this point last year. You probably feel like you have all the time in the world to make memories with your best friends. You probably feel like you don’t need to stop by to say “Hi” to your grandma or sleep in your own bed every night. You probably aren’t taking advantage of your mom’s home cooked meals because Taco Bell just sounds better. You really do feel unstoppable, almost invincible.
Senior year is a whirlwind, guys. At the start of my senior summer I told myself the same thing you’re probably telling yourself, “I have a whole year until graduation.”
Would you believe me if I told you that moment felt like it could have just been last month? Would you believe me if I told you that I blinked and suddenly I was standing on stage at commencement? Times have gone by fast in my life, but something about senior year caused it to go by as quickly as I can snap my fingers.
I want you all to enjoy every last bit of it. Take in every “last.” Your last drive to school on the first day, the final home football game spent in the student section (or on the sidelines for all my cheer girls), the last dissection day in A&P, or the last sleepover with your whole group of friends. Sometimes you don’t know when the “lasts” are going to come, and I’ll tell you right now that those are the hardest ones. Find someone to hug you tight when they come along.
You may even experience some “firsts,” so remember those too because they’re occasionally more exciting than the “lasts.”
I started this blog the night before my first day of senior year, and I want you to know that I’m extremely glad I made that decision. Having a record of some of my favorite moments from senior year is something I know I will always treasure. Document everything you can, I promise you won’t regret that. Ever.
Senior year is a learning experience. First semester is filled with college applications, ACT scores, and stress. Please remember that you don’t have to make a decision about college during that first semester. People around you will be signing their lives away, but you can take as much time as you need (I waited until spring break if that eases anyone’s conscience).
Second semester is when the flood comes. The flood includes intense senioritis, passes of nostalgia, an abundance of scholarship offers and college phone calls, and an overbearing feeling that it is all going to end soon.
In the middle of the flood, please don’t forget about the people who care about you. It’s easy to get caught up in your plans and excitement for the future, but there are people around you that need your heart too. Sit down with your family and have game night, pet your dog, buy your best friend some ice cream, and don’t forget to call your grandma every once in a while. Your life changing affects everyone that cares about you as well, please don’t forget that.
Picking a college is scary. Picking a college that’s different from your best friend’s is even scarier. The one thing I can tell you about that is that the choice of a college is for YOU. Strong friendships will survive distance, but if you don’t think you can survive the distance from your comfort zone, please, please understand that is okay. I was in love with the idea of attending a college three hours away until winter break, and then I realized that my hometown is where I want to stay. YOU know what is best for YOU, so I want you to do your best to utilize that knowledge when deciding where to go. You’ll thank yourself.
Senior year is the time to be obnoxious about being on top. You’re at the front of the student section at games, you walk the halls with your head held high, and you comment on how tiny the freshmen look. Don’t let the underclassmen diminish that entitlement because they will get their turn eventually. Right now it’s all yours.
And don’t be afraid to break your stereotype and try something new. My shaky little voice gave a commencement speech, so you really never know what will happen. Just try it out. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I feel like I’m passing on some sort of ceremonial baton, but I really just want all of you to know how important, special, and impactful this next year will be for you. It was one of the best and worst years of my life for so many different reasons, and I hope that everything you experience will influence you and make you appreciate all that life entails.
Here’s to you, Class of 2017. Have fun, be safe, and take care of those hallways for everyone that had to leave them behind.
Lauren (Class of 2016).