A few months ago I was sitting here on my couch sipping lemonade out of a plastic cup that said “Congrats Grad!” on it and writing a letter to my friends as we’d just graduated high school. The letter outlined what it was like for so many things to end; both high school, and this phase of our lives altogether. But now, as I’m making a list of what I’m taking to college with me and figuring out how I’m going to cram eighteen years of my life into two cars (much less into half of a dorm room), I feel inclined to write another letter: one to you, the class of 2018.
For most of you, you’re probably pretty nervous about this whole high school thing. You’re now at the bottom of the food chain and that’s a pretty scary thought. You’ve likely found yourself thinking about this new school and maybe new friends. New teachers. New classes. A whole new set of buildings and rooms to memorize. It’s overwhelming and you’ve likely told yourself to stop thinking about it so you don’t get that nervous feeling in your stomach the way I do; the same one you get when you’re next in line for a roller coaster.
Perhaps your parents have given you advice on how to endure high school, or maybe your older sibling has filled in those gaps, but from someone who’s been through the worst and the best moments, here’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.
You’re about to spend four years being bombarded by deadlines and drama, but try to make the best of every moment. It seems like your time here will never end, but it flies by so fast. You’d better hold on to the moments that make it worthwhile.
School is important, but don’t get crazy. Take your grades seriously and take pride in your work. If you’re gonna spend time writing that paper, you might as well make it worth reading. (Typical responsible advice for students)
Be you (and not who you wish you were), but surround yourself with people who are different than you. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have friends who were so different from me. They inspired me to do new things and go new places, as well as to be kinder and to not be embarrassed for my awkward moments. I had friends who had nerdy tendencies, ones who were star soccer players, some party kids, and the friends who would rather stay at home on a Saturday night with a movie rental and a bucket of ice cream. Be friends with people who appreciate your quirks and your nervous habits, and also ones who will pick on you out of love. They’re always the best.
You’re gonna be invited to a lot of parties and invited to do things you’re not sure about, but just remember to stay true to yourself. Parties are fun and friends are awesome, but don’t do something you know you’ll regret. (Just from me to you: if you need substances to have fun, you’re in the wrong crowd.)
Go to ridiculous movie premieres and midnight milkshake runs with friends. Nights spent cosmic bowling or stargazing are nights you’ll always remember.
Be careful to whom you give your heart. It’s a gift with no returns or exchanges.
Spend your weekends taking adventures rather than recovering from your Friday nights.
Read Love Does by Bob Goff (Yes, even those of you who don’t read and hate the idea of sitting down with a book: do it.) And once you’ve finished the last page, you’ll know why I’m including it in this list.
Limit yourself to one Instagram picture per day. Just trust me.
Read and write as much as possible. Understand that they are both magic. In the famous words of Albus Dumbledore, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” (So be careful how you use them.)
When you are confronted with the reality that you’re about to spend your night writing a last-minute paper, wipe away your tears and just embrace that tomorrow you’re not going to be yourself. (More likely than not, your friends did the same thing and everybody’s gonna be looking rough.)
Girls: Simmer down on the eyeliner, the tight shorts, and the bronzer. I’m not saying that because you don’t need those things to look pretty (although that’s true), I’m saying it because you don’t want to become unrecognizable at a pool or lake party when all the makeup and the hair product is gone. Trust me, if you go in the water as one person and come out of the lake a stranger, things become very awkward.
The next four years are essential to shaping who you are; don’t spend them with people you can’t trust, people who don’t have your back, or people who choose drama over love. It’s not worth it. And take this inversely as well: be someone people can trust, someone who has their back, and someone who is genuine.
And finally, know who you are. Whether you’ve completely figured that out or not, find your identity in your Creator and your Designer rather than what anyone thinks of you. Be all you, and nobody else.