It happened. I am officially a college student. Gosh, it seems crazy that this time in my life has finally come. To be honest, I still see myself as a little girl. I still identify as ‘the younger sibling’ — someone who anticipates the future but still has awhile to wait.
Can anyone else relate?
I found myself reflecting heavily on my high school years throughout my first week of college. To my surprise, there are so many things I wish I had done differently. As to not let these bits of truth go to waste in my mind, here I am sharing wisdom to all the high school seniors out there.
1. You Don’t Have It All Figured Out
I know this sounds harsh. But it’s true. You do not, I repeat, do not have it all figured out. I was a little bit naive and thought that I had my whole life figured out by age 17. I thought I was in a relationship heading for marriage, interested in the field that would become my college major, and headed to a school far away from high school friends.
I was way wrong.
That long term relationship ended, I have yet to declare a major, and I am at a university with 8 other people from my graduating class. And I could not be happier.
So I urge you to accept the fact that you, while you may think you got this whole life thing figured out, probably do not. But that it’s okay (and truly, more exciting that you don’t)!
You get to make mistakes. You get to figure things out along the way. And you get to be surprised by the way that your circumstances actually turn out.
And that is what keeps life so interesting.
2. Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously
I know that this already sounds so cliche, but hear me out. I took myself WAY too seriously in high school. In a way, I was living in fear. I was so afraid of what everyone at school thought of me and I worked so hard to keep up a certain image.
Now trying to be a reputable person is obviously great, but letting this pursuit become your identity is dangerous. Because pretty soon you will be in a new community of people who don’t know that old image that you worked so hard for.
So, how judgmental are you going to be on yourself and others? I will be the first to admit that I was hyper-judgmental, especially during my senior year. I always comforted myself by thinking “well, at least I’m not doing what everyone else is doing” and so on.
But you cannot measure your righteousness against all the things you did not do. I jeopardized making memories with friends because I gave too much power to ‘keeping up an image’.
Don’t hear me wrong, I’m not saying that you should just follow the crowd in the pursuit of making memories. But I am saying that taking yourself so seriously that you can’t appreciate a little craziness every now and then is not a good way to finish high school.
3. Invest in Things That Are Life-Giving
I believe that this is a good follow-up point from my last because I don’t want you to hear me wrong. Because in all honesty, “having fun” is the biggest challenge of high school. And you should know that there are some things that are simply not worth your time.
So no, it won’t kill you if you do “x, y, z”, but how is that giving value to your life?
Step out out of the crowd and choose to pursue the things that give you life. The things that make you feel most loved, appreciated, and truly content. Because everything else is simply a waste of time. And as cliche as it sounds, you only have so much time. So don’t waste it.
Again, I did not make good use of the remaining months that I had in high school. If I could go back, I would make such a stronger point to make lasting memories with some of my lifelong friends — in ways that made me feel most alive.
4. Quit Burning Bridges… Because You Will Regret It
Perhaps this is a topic for another post, but I spent too many hours resenting my season of life when I was in high school. I just wanted out of the bubble that I had been in for so long. I wanted newness, I wanted to get away, and I was just plain sick of where I was.
And so, unfortunately, I burned some bridges. In other words, I simply stopped pursuing friendships. I chose select friends and became relatively secluded. I always thought to myself “well, in a year we will all be at different colleges anyways, so why even try”. Little did I know that I would end up at a university with 8 other people from my graduating class of 60.
Needless to say, you never ever ever know who is going to be a part of your future. My best friend, for example, is no longer a part of my life. People I barely spoke to during my senior year are now faces I see every day. So truly, you never know.
5. Be Open to Change
I cannot stress this one enough. Be open to change, because change will come. Friendships change, personalities change, college choices change, and you yourself change. Be accepting to the things that change.
6. Go to the Football Games
And the basketball games. And the talent show. And everything you can. As little as these events seem to be, they are such sweet moments of high school that you can’t get back. So just go.
7. Go Visit Your Friends At College
I cannot even tell you how many times I told my older friends that I would go visit them and then never did. In conversation, the idea of road tripping to visit your friends in their college dorms is so fun and exciting! But when the months roll by, it is easy to get swept into other things. But seriously, do it.
Grab a friend or two and go visit your older friends! This is a great way to make memories and also see colleges in their true light, and not just via a tour group.
8. Appreciate Home… Because It’s a Pretty Amazing Place
Of course, this can apply to wherever home is for you. But I love where I am from. Truly everything about it. So appreciate where you are because it is more amazing than you probably realize.
So go to every small coffee shop, watch as many sunrises as possible, make as many breakfast dates as you can, drive around just for fun, and take lots of pictures. Because it is easy to take for granted the places that you actually love the most.
9. Pour Into People
Above all, choose to pour yourself into people during your senior year. Whether it is a friend, a teacher, or a small group — do it.
I was so blessed to have a community group that became such a safe place for me to open up with other believers. But even greater was the blessing of two leaders that I could so strongly depend on.
One of them, in particular, was such a lighthouse for me during a recent storm in my life. I am so grateful for her friendship and constant support. But this blessing wouldn’t have been possible if I had not chosen to open up and pour myself into these relationships.
You may think during your senior year that investing in relationships is a waste of time because you are moving away soon. But you could not be more wrong. This is the most important time to pursue strong, uplifting relationships because so much change is coming. You will soon be treading in uncharted waters and you need someone to be a lighthouse.
So don’t just brush off the idea of a small group or a mentor. Run towards these things with arms wide open and you will not regret it.
10. Enjoy Where You Are
As stated before, I spent too many moments in high school resenting where I was. All I wanted was to graduate and “start my life”. And I bet I am not the only one who has thought this.
I thought that college would be the magical chapter of my life that would be the starting place for my future. It is where I will find my lifelong friends, truly figure out who I am, actually pursue a deeper faith, meet my husband, and thrive. And I wasted so much of high school believing this lie.
You do not need to wait until you are wearing a cap and gown to “begin your life”. You are living your life literally right now. And I know that this sounds dumb and obvious but I truly did not understand this when I was in your shoes.
So simply put, stop wasting your final moments of high school by only focusing on the future. Focus on the now and start living the life you want.
I know that many of these points seem cliche, obvious, or silly, but they are truly things that I know I needed to hear during my senior year and did not. High school is such a cool time in your life and I hope that you have the courage not to waste it.
Thanks for reading!