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Five Things I Wish I’d Known

A Graduating Senior Reflects

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Five Things I Wish I’d Known

Photo from bcomber archives by Bradford Douglas

Photo from bcomber archives by Bradford Douglas

Photo from bcomber archives by Bradford Douglas

Photo from bcomber archives by Bradford Douglas

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There are a few things I’ve learned over the past four years. Although I don’t think I’m an expert on high school by any means, these are some things I wish someone had told me either before senior year or before I started high school.

First, senior year is much harder than anyone told you. The truth is that the burden seniors carry, especially during their first semester, is one that is heavy. Between choosing what colleges to apply to and when, waiting for acceptances or rejections, picking one of those offers of admission to follow through with or even to not go to college at all, followed by picking classes, roommates, potential majors, and more, it feels like every decision you make senior year will be one that directly affects the rest of your life.

Where will I live when I grow up? What will I do? Who will I work with, associate with, who will my friends be? All this and more could be determined simply by which college you attend. It’s often a daunting and tiring task, one that left me drained and unmotivated at many times throughout the year.

Additionally, I think the Beachwood Class of 2019 especially felt as though we had been tricked into believing that senior year would be a breeze, a belief I think is still held by both younger students and faculty but couldn’t be further from the truth.

Senior year has been challenging academically, with teachers assuming we don’t have any work aside from that of their class, and socially, with the knowledge that at the end of May we will go our separate ways, and the friendships we spent four years building may fall to the wayside.

But it truly goes beyond that. During our years in high school, we change more than maybe any other four-year period in our lives. We experience more emotional turmoil at an accelerated rate, being the hormone-driven teenagers that we are, chock full of drama and self discovery.  When we become seniors, the end of high school is finally in reach.

It feels like every decision you make senior year will be one that directly affects the rest of your life.”

Second, for these reasons, being friends with underclassmen when you are a senior is hard. As a senior who is friends with underclassmen, trust me when I say that it is extremely difficult.

The problem is I know that in one month, I will no longer be tied to BHS, its faculty, or its student body, and therefore I have ceased to care about the drama that goes on within its walls. My mind is sitting in the grass, bathing in the sun on the Washington University in St. Louis campus, where I will spend the next four years of my education.

After these past four years of learning how to take care of myself, I can honestly say that maintaining friendships across grades is a challenging task because underclassmen often don’t know what you’ve learned or just don’t get all that you’re going through. It can get frustrating.

However; third, I’d also say that when you find those freshmen, sophomores or juniors who you just click with, those friendships can be the most rewarding ones of all.

Though they may not understand or be able to help you through the college application process, underclassmen friends provide a much-needed support system outside of it. They are outside of the storm, while you may be just in the eye of it. Their lack of college stress can be the remedy to yours.

I definitely owe a thank you to my friends in the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022. I would not have survived this year without your love and support. Know that I’ll be there for you across cities, states and countries to support you when you go through the college process in the coming years.

What is not okay is not seeking help when you need it. Not accepting a shoulder to cry on, or not allowing others to support you through your pain, that is unacceptable. We need to be better at letting ourselves let others in.”

Fourth, these friends won’t just come from nowhere. I struggled to find people I ‘clicked’ with, and I mistook toxic friendships for true ones on more than one occasion. I only found these people by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and relentlessly trying to figure out what activities I enjoy. My two favorite things I did in high school were being part of the Beachcomber staff and being on the lacrosse team, both of which I only started doing junior year.

These activities and others gave me an outlet to find new friends and figure out not only what I want to do with my life, but also what type of people I want to be around while doing it. It might take a while, but now that I’ve found it, I know it’s worth the wait. Don’t settle for bad friends, no matter what point you’re at in high school.

Fifth and finally, I wish with all my heart that someone told me that it was okay not to be okay. There were so many times in these past four years when I was so beyond not okay and I felt so guilty for it. I felt like, “I’m in high school, I’m supposed to be enjoying myself, not feeling like this.”

But if we were happy all the time, it would mean nothing. The good memories would be nothing to me if I hadn’t experienced my darkest. It is okay and normal to not be okay all the time.

However; what is not okay is not seeking help when you need it. Not accepting a shoulder to cry on, or not allowing others to support you through your pain, that is unacceptable. We need to be better at letting ourselves let others in.

My hope for BHS, its students and its faculty is that we all get better at meeting people where they are, asking how they are, what they need, and then providing that for them. A little action can go a long way.

I wish I had known earlier– I wish someone had told me that my pain was understandable, that it wasn’t my fault and that one day it would fade, but for now they would help me through it as much as they could. That’s all anybody ever needs, isn’t it?

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