Well. It happened.
I turned in my lock, Zoology textbook, and sign out sheet. I drug my feet down the halls three extra times because it didn’t feel right. I said goodbye to people I knew I might never see again. Today was my final day of high school.
It may sound clichè, and those who have already been there done that, may read this and roll their eyes. But you have to understand that this time of change is such an earthquake of an event in my life, in my family’s life, in my friends’ lives, and for the entire class of 2017 worldwide.
Everything has changed within the last three hours. No one prepares you for goodbye. We’re all experiencing the same cap and gown, but it’s not the same feeling for everyone. Not all of us get the luxury of a summer vacation, or to hang out with friends at pool parties.
I know a few classmates who start their nine to five job on Monday, and will work for the next three months straight.
I know classmates who are traveling abroad, taking online courses, or already beginning their first semester of college at the local community center.
I also know some who will not be attending a college or university in the fall, and have moved out of their parents home and are beginning to do adult things like work full-time, pay bills, and buy their own groceries.
I am stuck somewhere in-between having a concrete plan and being sick to my stomach with worry.
I have a list of things to accomplish, places to travel, subjects to learn. I’ve had a bucket list since the age of 12, and have slowly put off things that I’ve wanted to save for when I’m “grown up.”
Today was my last official day of required education in the United States, but I am nowhere near “grown up”. I can’t get a big girl job, pay rent, or shop for boxed crackers with enough tears, sweat, and laughter, I’ll find the courage I’ve been looking for. Mine comes and goes in waves.
It took courage to walk across the lawn with my backpack as I approached the doors on my first day of school.
It took courage to grip the steering wheel with both hands and pretend to remember how to parallel park in order to earn my license.
It took courage to admit that I was not happy where I was, and it took courage to change that.
It took courage to post my first blog, and overcome the MeanDarkScary thoughts that come with sharing your message.
It took courage to publish a book at age seventeen.
It took courage to choose to attend a university 3 1/2 hours from my home and beloved family.
And today, it took courage to cross the lawn with my backpack as I walked away from my friends, classmates, teachers, and what has been my home-away-from-home for the past two years.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. And when in high school (and life after), I recommend catching and holding onto as much of it as you can.
Hopeful and tearful,
(I’ve inserted a video I made representing my past two years of high school. Thank you to all who’ve helped me in this journey, and contributed to the video).