Days away from graduating and surprisingly, I’m a mess.

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Since I began high school, the only thing on my mind was, “When can I get out of here?” They say these four years fly by and up until around a week ago, I never believed that. It’s crazy to me that I’m graduating in a month.

When thinking about graduating, I have always been so excited, and I still am, don’t get me wrong. It’s just different now. School and I have had less than a perfect relationship throughout the years. So, as you can imagine, I thought that in my final weeks here, I would be bursting at the seams with joy and readiness to leave for good.

It’s weird, you know? You’re always told that you’ll miss high school when it’s over, and I was always so adamant that I never would. But, I think that my mindset has changed recently. Now, I’m not saying I want to stay in high school or go back and do it again, nothing crazy like that. Just, as my time here begins to dwindle down, I find myself wrapped up in a sort of nostalgic feeling.

It’s not the homework or the tests I’ll miss, or even really my classmates, as cold as that may seem. I’m slowly realizing that whether I like it or not, school is a kind of safe space. You can make mistakes here and sure there are consequences but nothing really life changing. Which is a good and a bad thing. I feel like we are so sheltered here which is comforting to a point but also kind of anxiety-provoking because I feel like I might not be ready for the real world, no matter how much I like to think I am.

I have always been the kid cutting classes, getting in trouble and finding any excuse I can to miss a day of school. Now, when I’m finally almost done, and when I’m actually allowed to leave the building early, I find myself wandering the halls and staying after with some of my teachers who have helped shape me into who I am today.

I have never been one for sentimental gestures, or to get emotional, especially about school, a place I have dreaded going to since I can remember. But, there are some things I want to get off my chest before my time here is up:

I spent every day here, doing just barely enough to get by. I confess that I could have done better. I wish I had done better. Not so I could get a chord at graduation, or to be able to say I had a 4.0 GPA. But for me. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain, I just know that if given the chance to change one thing about my high school experience, it would have been that. Not just academic wise, but in general, I could have done better here.

I guess that’s all part of the experience though, right? This is the one time in your life you’re expected to make mistakes and regret things. Now we’re getting let out into the real world, and we’re expected to take what we’ve learned here and put it to good use.

So, if I could give you underclassmen any advice, it would be to take advantage of your time here instead of wishing it away. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone. You’re going to learn so much here, and you won’t realize it until it’s over. And it’s not the information you put on your flashcards to study for finals with that I am talking about. Over the course of the next few years, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself, life and people in general. If you play your cards right, you might even enjoy yourself a little bit.

Try to remember to not let yourself get too caught up in trying to be an adult or trying to plan for after high school and try to remember that you’re a kid, and to live in the present and to try and get everything you can out of your time as a high school student.

Take it from the girl whose had a countdown to graduation day since freshman year: You’re going to miss this place.  Make the most of these few years.

And don’t blink because you might miss it.

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