An Open Letter to You, High School Grad

Dear Graduate,

Throwing my red cap in the air in the spring of 2009 was one of the happiest moments of my life.

The tassel got caught in my earring and I was across the arena (alphabetically and otherwise) from my friends, so I was feeling pretty salty about that, but man, I was so happy to throw that cap in the air. I didn’t even care about how much I was sweating beneath my red polyester gown anymore. High school was done.

Now it’s 2017 and I’m 26. I survived college, and now the first few years of my grownup life. And girl, there are so many things I wish I had known in that summer after my senior year of high school. Like, I don’t know, don’t fall for that guy who dropped out of college twice in 1 year? Not that I did that.

(Of course I did that.)

Anyway, in all your copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and your stack of Target gift cards, there’s not going to be much that you really need to know. Bless Dr. Seuss, but he didn’t exactly get into the nitty gritty of it. I’ll try to do that, but before I do–

You did it. You graduated. And I’m really proud of you.

That’s the first thing I want you to know. Not everyone graduates from high school, especially when you think in the context of our world. You are on your way to being a thoughtful, educated world-changer. We need more like you, so don’t let your worries or fears distract from the fact that you did it. You survived Algebra 2 and English Lit and World History. You’re awesome.

On that note, there’s a few things I want to tell you. From my experience–

It’s going to take awhile to adjust to the pace of college classes.

Some of the smartest people I knew in high school got their first C’s and D’s their first semester of college. Meanwhile, some of my friends adjusted to college coursework in what seemed like seconds.

There’s a lot of factors to consider here, like the school you’ve picked, and the high school you came from, but if you find yourself feeling like you can’t keep up, I promise it will get better. Give it some time. You’re smart, and you’ll adjust. Especially once you get into your major’s classes, which, speaking of–

You are probably going to change your major, and you shouldn’t fight it.

I didn’t change mine, but I’ve changed careers 4 times since I finished school, and my original major has literally nothing to do with being a blogger or writer.

More than likely though, you’ll change your major during your time in school. I don’t know why, but there seems to be this strange pressure to get it right the first time which is ABSURD, friend.

People switch their majors as they get a clearer understanding of who they are.

Sure, some people don’t switch. That’s fine. Who cares? You probably will, and when you do, I want you to know that changing course is brave. It’s smart, and healthy, and brave. The more you get to know yourself and what kind of life you want to have, the more you will start to see what kind of career you want to put your footprints in.

(Another spoiler alert: You will be still be working to figure this out once you finish college, so, cut yourself some slack.)

Embracing change both outside and within ourselves is so important. And like I said before, it’s brave.

And if you don’t change your major? You’ll probably change careers. Hang on for the ride!

You’re not going to keep all your friendships, but you will keep the important ones.

There’s a couple of reasons why you’re not going to maintain every single friendship from high school.

  1. Some of those people are going to go crazy.
  2. If they don’t go crazy, they still might change into a version of themselves that’s different from the 17 year-old that you sat next to Human Anatomy. You and the New Her may not get along as well.
  3. You won’t have time to keep with everyone, so you’ll have to choose who you’ll invest in.
  4. You’re gonna make new friends.

I grew up with 4 best friends, and our college relationships inspired my first novel. To this day, they are my people. Some of the closest people in the world to me. So, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. It absolutely does. The trick is understanding that they aren’t ALL going to turn out that way, and that’s okay. If you can appreciate that many friendships are only with us for certain seasons, you’ll have an easier time stepping into your next adventure. 

Plus, you’re going to make new friends to share your new life with. My closest college pals became a part of my heart in a way that no other friendship had before. The four of us had countless adventures, traveled all over the world, and walked each other through some of our scariest grown-up moments. I talk to them every day, even 4 years later.

Make new friends. Put some intentional effort into keeping your most special ones from before. You’ve got this.

You are going to make mistakes.

You’re going to flunk tests, pick the wrong major, pledge the wrong sorority, date the wrong boys, and sometimes focus on the wrong things.

Friend, it’s okay.

You’re not a failure; you’re learning how to be a person, how to be you, just like the rest of us.

I want you to try hard in school. I want you to study hard, try new things, be passionate, brave, love yourself, and love your people old and new. Don’t let yourself go, but don’t give up when you fail. Those are your biggest learning moments.

I was a mess for a big chunk of college, and now I’m doing something I love, have the kind of friends that most people only dream of having, and am dating a guy who did NOT in fact drop out of college twice in 1 year. If I can do it, so can you.

Why am I telling you this?

Because you, yes you, sitting on the other side of this screen, are uniquely gifted, uniquely talented, uniquely you. And I believe you are going to change your world. Snowflakes aside, you really are special.

You’re going to have a lovely life, and you’re going to do lovely things.

Congratulations on your graduation, and know that I’m rooting for you. I’m always here if you need a reminder!

Much Love,

Sarah

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