to the high school seniors

for the kids who are just as excited to begin as they are scared to end

You are going to be okay.

Let me repeat that: you are going to be okay.

You have one semester left. Five months of high school before you’re an adult, whatever that means to you.

Leaving is easier and harder than you expect it to be.

I am a very emotional person. I cry a lot, for a lot of reasons.

I didn’t cry when I graduated. I was ready to go, ready to make a name and a life for myself away from high school. I didn’t cry when I left Atlanta for Durham, didn’t cry when I got to college, didn’t cry when my mom left me all alone in a dorm room with a complete stranger.

I cried when I came back and saw everyone again. When I realized that life had gone on without me, that the kids I had mentored and helped for three years were now seniors, were running robotics teams and honor societies alike.

I cried when I realized that I couldn’t come back all the time, that events and meetings were going to happen without my input. I cried when I didn’t see people I loved every single day, when I realized that I could have seen them less than a year ago.

My last semester of senior year was spent finishing up a lot of essays for IB, a lot of projects for engineering, a lot of trying to figure out what college to go to and how to navigate my life. I don’t regret the afternoons I spent in my English teacher’s classroom, talking about philosophy and Marvel and queer theory.

I do regret the fact that, during my last semester of high school, I didn’t spend as much time in the engineering room. I usually spent every morning and afternoon in that room, working with people on projects and seeing the people that had become my family.

I was scared that I would break down if I came into the room. I was frightened that my kids would see me sobbing over something I thought would be over forever.

I was so afraid to leave that I sped up the process.

My boyfriend at the time eventually told me that people had been asking after me, had missed seeing me, but school had already ended. I cried then, too.

I spent my last semester of high school worrying about what would come next. I should have spent it enjoying what I had left.

You have five months left. There are people who you will see when you come back to visit (and you will). There are people who you’ll see at graduation and never think of again.

Apply to college. Get into college. Finish your essays, take your AP and IB exams, sleep.

But spend time with the people around you. Revel in the attention they give you, the love they bestow upon you, the happiness you can share.

College is going to change your life. It’s a great and wonderful thing, but you’re going to have college for the next few years. You only have high school for the next few months.

Make it count.

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