Ah, senior year. I never really thought it would be every single thing everyone has ever said wrapped into one, but low and behold, it is. Senior year is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and insane challenges. Within one year, I lost friends, gained life-long mentors, and went through some of the most challenging tasks. While you read, be sure to listen to Anthem Lights Class of 2018 album. In this post, I'm going to be sharing with you 10 things I learned within this year, and maybe sharing a few stories.
1. If you commited at all, then you're committed for all.
I cannot tell you how crucial this is. There were so many times that I signed up for things in advance for clubs or took a concurrent (online college) course that sounded interesting in the moment without thinking ahead. There were SEVERAL times I was up by 6 on a weekend and up at school instead of asleep in my bed. In the moment, I was nothing but mad at myself for signing up for a certain club or taking a certain class. Now looking back, I wouldn't change it for the world. Every time I got up early and busied myself with an additional club activity was another time I was learning productivity and punctuality. Every time I was crying at midnight in my room about a college study guide or assignment, I was pushing myself even harder to understand the material and get through the class. Even though I'm sure pre-cal is useful somewhere, I taught myself a lesson that is extremely helpful in life by doing this.
2. take a breath and let it go. No one will remember what she said in 5 years.
In all technicality, I learned this more towards the end of my junior year but I had to include this crucial fact. This was/is also definitely more for people who were around me then directed towards me. I couldn't tell you the amount of times I listened in on conversations in the sophomore class I TA'ed in and cringed. Let me tell you this: it's HIGH SCHOOL. Even though at that point it is the highlight of your life and a place you attend daily, it seriously is not going to matter in 5 years, or even 1. I struggled to recall things from my underclassman years while I was still in high school, and I'm sure in a year those memories will not resurface. Sure, high school can be great on several occasions and deserves to be remembered in positive light, but petty drama and silly grudges shouldn't (and don't) matter.
3. Be involved. Especially if you want to be remembered.
If you talked to anyone from my high school, I'm sure one word that would come out would be "overachiever", which I clarify as true. Honestly, I was in upper level classes, juggling 11 clubs with officer positions in all of them, managing my own community service projects, doing volunteer work outside of school, and still maintaining somewhat of a social life. A break for me in high school didn't really exist. The group (about 75% of my class; it was SMALL) I was friends and acquaintances with was the same way; involved in clubs, sports, and hard classes. Our school had an "open campus" policy for seniors, in which students could leave campus after they attended the classes they needed to. With this being said, the other 25% of my class were people that I literally didn't see until graduation day. I honestly hadn't seen them for the whole year, and I know that's how some people want to live. Personally, I would never want that, hence my many roles, but whatever floats your boat.
4. If there's something you've always wanted to do, then do it. It's your last chance.
This advice really doesn't roll around until senior year, hence why it's in this blog post. There were SO many times within my senior year that I took a step back from what I was doing and realized it was my last time to ever be doing these things as a high school student. It's extremely bittersweet when you come to that realization! We get so used to just going to high school that it kind of seems unreal that it will come to an end. When I look back at my senior year, I'm really proud to say that there is absolutely nothing I would change, even if things didn't work out the way I had planned. There is nothing I regret doing, and there's nothing I regret not doing (mainly cause I did everything I wanted to do). If there's something you've wanted to do consistently, (as long as you're not hurting anyone or yourself) GO FOR IT! You don't want to look back at high school and be disappointed for not doing something you wanted.
5. Everybody changes. And sometimes, not for the better.
Whether you want to accept or not, everybody changes in high school. You're stuck with the same faces for four years, and I can guarantee you every single person changes. Whether it be physical, mental, emotional, small, or big, they change. Take it from a person who was too painfully shy to cough in class for the first two years of high school to someone now who will tell you exactly how she feels and talk to pretty much anyone. With changes, come... adjustments others have to make. When people change, so do attitudes, friendships, relationships, and all that fun jazz. I will tell you right now: you will lose a friend. It might be a big ugly battle (and if it is, I promise you it's always better to patch things up when you're more mature) or just a gradual grow-apart, but you will lose someone you have countless memories with. That isn't always a bad thing, because you still get to keep those awesome memories! It's just a fact of life. Gosh, teenagers are exhausting. High school is lowkey a trap, I just realized, you know? Putting a bunch of hormonal, growing, changing teenagers together for 8 hours a day... Who in the world came up with that?!
6. Don't take the easy way out. Even if you're more confused than ever.
Every college freshman horror story I've ever heard always talks about how unexpectedly hard college truly is. Even though I know I can't "truly" get the college experience until I'm there, I wanted to do my very best to assure that this wouldn't happen to me. I did not want to take the "senior year's a breeze" approach and then be smacked in the face within a year. By taking college courses in high school, I aided this quest. However, I didn't take easy concurrent classes either. I will be the first to admit to you that I spent my fair share of nights at my desk at an unearthly hour of the morning crying over notes for a class I didn't understand. Those classes KICKED MY TOOSH and I can say that proudly. I will also be the first to admit to you that yes, I got a couple of C's. You know what? I did my BEST. I worked day and night for some of those grades and honesty wouldn't change it for the world. Even though I love A's and prefer to see them, grades are not everything in this world.
7. If you're not sure if you should do it, you should do it.
There were so many huge opportunities I was faced with my senior year of high school. Some of them honestly had me in tears contemplating whether or not I should involve myself extra stress and responsibility, but somehow I couldn't say no. Some of those things were one of the best decisions I've ever made! My senior year was a little different. My best friend, Grace Smithson, and I actually led a community service project called "Business Blessings", which is actually a closet full of business clothes open to students and the community. We even actually got notarity from this project by being in a large yet local newspaper and landing it on the local news. (I have linked the interviews if it's something you're interested in learning more about!) It something that our high school will carry on even now that we're gone, and that just makes me feel so special. I would have never gotten this opportunity without my hardworking attitude before, but it's something Grace and I have both said we won't change for the world, even if we we're stressed 24/7!
8. Trust me, you will regret what you wore at some point.
With every generation seemingly blending that "awkward" phase of life into basically nothing, it's getting harder and harder to find out what the heck happened to us and why NO ONE told us not to do some of the things we did. To my surprise, even though I don't consider any to be awkward (at least within this year), I have heard several people say with confidence that they love their style and won't look back on anything negative they wore. Yep, high school students with that much confidence... = dangerous. I think that everyone in high school, especially if you're female, will AT LEAST go through these 5 "Why the Cheese Did I Do That" moments: 1. Extremely cringe-worthy haircut that NO ONE asked for (not even you; that was my case, I went in for a trim (my hair was LONG) and came out with shoulder length hair that I didn't really care to style towards the end of my freshman year. Yep, YIKES.), 2. Literally AWFUL dress that you wore to some formal event (school dances/prom, we lookin' at you. Mine happened to be a gold sequin number that had a literal hoop skirt looking thing around it, but it was short. Yeah... I don't even know, y'all, sophomore year was dark), 3. The classic "no one told me it was picture day" look (this one actually happened to me towards the end of 8th grade, but it was close enough to count, and I cannot tell you how many of my friends showed up in sweats and soon agony as their school picture was taken), 4. The cringey "headpiece" stage (My particular moment was this was with a headband that matched my shirt.... that I wore the first day of Freshman year *yeah, I was THAT kid. Anyway, I feel like every few years, some sort of headband or hair accessory comes back around on trend. For example, I actually noticed a few people last year wearing things such as flower crowns and head jewelry), and finally 5. The HORRIBLE makeup (I don't think this is one anyone can really escape from. The good news is you get better and better the more you binge watch makeup gurus, but I seriously probably didn't get out of my cringey makeup stage until the beginning of my senior year).
9. Respect your teachers now. you will appreciate them later.
This is REAL. FLIPPING. TALK, Y'ALL. I was almost amazed at how many underclassman had the nerve to say certain things to the awesome teachers in my school, and it really did make me sad. All teachers should be appreciated because their job is hard enough already (I took a teaching class and actually wanted this to be my career for a hot minute, so I have a TON of knowledge on this subject). I was actually friends and sort of a "mentor" I suppose to a lot of underclassman, and I remember so many conversations where they would complain or share their dislike for certain teachers that I, as a senior student with college and upperlevel work, WORSHIPED the ground they walked on because they were so incredible. Every time, I would pretty much respond with "you'll appreciate them someday". Low and behold, I've already been correct about this, but regardless. Respect the people that are giving up their time of day to teach you something. Chances are if you don't at least respect and listen to them when they ask you to, what makes you think they're going to want to listen and hear you out when you're having troubles later on? I seriously became so close with a lot of my teachers and I plan on going back to visit with them, because they truly are the bomb.com.
10. You have to be there anyway. Make your time worthwhile.
Even though you're probably thinking, "Ashley what the heck you said you were busy all the time", which I was, but I'm directing these more towards people who came here for advice. Think about it. You are required, by law, to attend school. 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. 4 years of your life. Make your time worthwhile, even if you don't want to be there (and lets be really real, who does?!). Go to a football game and cheer on your school's team, even if you have no idea what is going on in football. Go to prom. Get close with your teachers. Try your best in everything you do. Take that class you've always wanted to, even if no one else does it with you. Get involved in clubs and competitions. Take pictures! Ask that boy you've liked for 5 years to go to a game or local event. Cheer at peprallys. Joke around in the office (this was easier for me, considering we had super friendly and joking staff, and the secretary is my best friend's mom). Enjoy your time, because it will fly by.