What to Expect When You Are Expecting (To Graduate)


Jessica Hoffman, Staff Writer

Before this story begins, let’s think about something for a second; let’s think about the realization that life is a never ending cycle (metaphor…life does end…DO NOT DRINK FROM THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH! IMMORTAL LIFE WOULD BE TERRIBLE!) of motion with no room for relaxation.

Your average students trudges through their high school career, trying to hide the bags under their eyes and the stress that grips their voice box, making them hoarse. Once they finally make it to that glorious day, walk across a stage in front of their family and fellow students, pick up a piece of paper, and breathe a sigh of relief, many of them naively think that the worst has come and gone. Then comes college and, after figuring out that it is not a blow off and they actually have to learn how to learn, they trudge through four plus more years of school. Yet another graduation day arrives and they wait patiently to walk across the stage and pick up yet another piece of paper, and again believe that the worst has come and gone. After they escape the final grip of the education system (trying not to think about that fact that its index finger is still tangled in their hair, until their last student loan is paid on their deathbeds.), they step into the job industry. They find a job (hopefully…), suck up to their boss, cash their first pay check, and without realizing it, begin reminiscing their high school career. By this time, high school had faded into a vague experience, a blurry memory. They can no longer look back on their teenage lives with an accurate perspective, making them wrongly believe that high school was the best four years of their lives.

And all of the stress, all of the fear, all of the tears disguise themselves as a necessary road leading to the destination they almost gave up on getting to.

Now for the story:

Right now you are probably a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior (If you are a Senior, stop reading this because you are too late; there is no hope for you anymore), working your way through your high school career (or I guess stressful, unpaid internship). You are probably (I feel like there might be too many probably’s in here, but I am trying to leave space for the unknown….you know…not assume as many things. I mean for all I know you might be a high school drop out, trying to reconnect with your youth by exploring an old newspaper’s website.) thinking that the stress that you are going through now will soon fade into a bad dream, a painful memory.

Well, I hate to break it to you kid, but life does not get easier with time. Yes, there is a bit of excitement that lingers in the days that bring each Senior nearer and nearer to their Salvation Day, but there is also fear.

Fear scratches its way into every sensation, every thought, every wishful dream of what the future may bring you. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of advancing too quickly, fear of advancing too slowly, fear of leaving everything that you found comfort in for the last 18 years behind in an attempt to make something of yourself, to form a future.

All of these fears spring into your mind at the most unexpected times, forcing you to acknowledge a future, your future, instead of pretending to do your homework while watching Shane Dawson deep fry a Barbie.

Even though they may seem intimidating, the fears encasing your last year in what many people refer to as the best four years of their life (which…no offense even though this statement will probably be offensive…is kind of sad because life should offer you a lot more than four years trapped inside of a brick building, clinging to the hope that one day you will wake up financially stable and free) is not the hardest part about graduating. Saying goodbye to your friends is probably the hardest thing you will have to do before departing for college (and yes, I know that is corny). Knowing that some of your friendships will end forever and some will slowly fade away. Realizing that the people you have surrounded yourself with for years will no longer grace you with their presence every day (or every other day…block schedule guys).

All of these things that you took for granted even though you knew in the back of your mind that it would all come to an end in the near future. All of the memories you did not think you would have trouble remembering. All of the conversations you deemed as “nothing special”. All of these things will slowly slip through your fingers, fade from your subconscious, and disappear from your life before you can regret taking them for granted.

In contradiction to the theme of my previous message, Senior year is not all bad. There are some good things like an off period (or two if your mom does not think that taking both will make you look like a slacker in the eyes of the college admission boards) and learning to appreciate your life. You might even get one or two days that are homework free (if you decide to put everything that is not due tomorrow off and watch a few thousand youtube videos). You learn how to spend more money (I guess that can count as future preparation) and gain a lot of “Hey, congratulations for not dying for 18 years! You truly are a survivor” money to spend on college supplies or food or whatever makes you happy. Think of it as a bonus marking your promotion in the education industry. You also get out more (or at least I did…but I mean anything was an improvement to previous social life) because you finally feel like you have time, and the “Oh my gosh! I might not get another opportunity to do this again with the people I love” feelings take over, forcing you to brave the world in ways you did not before (which I am assuming is similar to what people who learn they only have one year to live go through). So, I guess you could say that Senior year is like realizing that you have to take advantage of your life before it is gone… or different.

This, my dear friends, is what Senior life is all about. This is what a Senior thinks about in between graduation announcements. This is what it feels like to reach reality. My only request: do not take it for granted, any of it.