I am dedicating this post specifically for the class 0f 2016!!!
First off I want to say CONGRATULATIONS on completing another big milestone in life. This milestone is very important, more important than getting your license. So I want to personally say I am proud of each and every one of you who walked across that stage and got your high-school diploma!
I also want to say that yes, it’s over, high school anyway, but it’s not all over because college is next for some of you and things are about to get much harder than it was before. You thought high school was difficult and you struggled, just wait. I am not saying that to scare any of you, but to be real with you and get you prepared for what is coming for some of you.
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I want to tell yall to take a deep breath and really realize what you just did. You graduated high school. Congratulate yourself, be proud of yourself, brag about yourself because you’re allowed to. You earned the right to. You have stayed up until 3-4am some nights to get over 50 pages of reading and note taking done. You’ve worked for days on end on a project that’s worth 50% of your grade. You made it through long days in class when all you wanted to do was fall asleep because of all the work you did the night before for today. You would get done with 8 hours of school straight to your sport practice for 2-4 hours then straight to work for another 4-5 hours then home to sneak a meal in while you are doing homework for the rest of the night only to get to bed around 1-2am then back at it the next morning at 8am. You have sacrificed so much to be here and have that piece of paper in your hands, but it was worth it.
You fought with yourself about weather or not to sit down and do your homework or go out with your friends, usually the friends won but you still got your work done even if that meant getting it done 5 minutes before that class in the hallway. Y’all made a way, yall always made it work. That is one thing yall are good at is making a way. Y’all are motivated and yall have goals. You may not reach those goals in the typical way adults want you to reach them but you reach them in your own way and I think that is important to realize. Times are definitely different and things have definitely changed a lot since your parents and grandparents were your age so don’t take their harsh words to heart. Don’t let them discourage you just because you didn’t do something the same way they did when they were kids. We have technology at our fingertips of course we are going to use it. We are stronger and smarter than every before but older generations seem to think we have it all messed up. We don’t. We just have a different way of looking at the world than you and that is okay.
Each of you have a different story and a different path you are on for different reasons. All of you were together at one point in your life going to the same high-school but now each of you are headed different ways to your own future. Some of those people you will never see again, some of them you will. Things are going to be different, but it will be a good different. Be ready for what’s coming. Embrace these new changes and opportunities with open arms.
Some of you may know exactly where you’re going after this and some of you may not. Some of you have already applied to and decided on which college you’re going to and some of you may have some ideas on where you want to go or maybe what you want to major in while some of you don’t know if you even want to go to college at all. Some of you are optimistic about what is to come and some of you are scared.
I just want to say it is okay to not know where you want to go to college or if you even want to go, it is okay if you want to take a couple years off before going and it is okay to decide you never want to go. It is okay to know what your major is already but it is also okay not to. I can guarantee you will probably change your major because most people never stick with their first choice. It is okay to go in undecided and get a feel for different things and then decide after a year or two on a specific major. It is okay to look at everything positively and it is okay to be a little scared. Now I say that hesitantly because I don’t want you being scared of everything that comes your way and not taking chances that may be good for you and not going on life changing adventures but it is okay to be weary and to question things in life. I want you to question everything. Don’t just follow the flow, make your own flow. But also don’t turn down a great opportunity because you are a little scared of change or of new things. Take chances and have faith things will work out.
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I know high-school was a different experience for everyone. Some people had the best four years of their life and some people barely made it through. I was somewhere in the middle. I moved a lot and never made friends that stayed around, I was made fun of and bullied, I never had a niche of people to hang out with, and I always kind of stood out. I didn’t like high-school, I was happy to leave and be done with it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the opportunity I had to even attend school and get an education. I don’t look at everything that happened to me during high-school negatively and I don’t regret or have any hate toward anyone I went to school with regarding anything that happened to me.
I took everything that happened as a lesson learned. I grew into a strong young woman because of what happened. I stand up for other people because of what happened to me. I help others because of what happened to me. I have chosen my career because of not only what happened to me but what I saw happen to other people in my schools and in this country. I want you all to look at your high school experience in that way. Take those bad things and turn them into good things. Turn them into reasons why you are the way you are. Everything happens for a reason and I believe I was meant to go through what I went through for a very specific reason that I may not know of right now but it will become clear with time. So be positive people. Don’t let 4 bad years bring you down. Stand up and grow from it, learn from it. You have the rest of your life ahead of you and you
Another thing I want to mention to those of you going off to college: enjoy this Summer. Really take it all in and spend as much time as you can with your friends yes, but mostly with your family that you will be leaving in just a short 3 months. Don’t forget about them. Eat dinners with your family at home, have game night with them, have chill days on the couch with them. Of course also have nights out with your friends, girls night out, or nights out with your bros. But I can say you will regret not spending time with your family when you are standing in your dorm room having to say goodbye to them and you see their sad looks on their faces. You will wish you could have 5 more minutes with them to hang out. You will miss them. As much as you want to get out of the house and leave and get to college, you will miss them. So spend this summer wisely.
Y’all are officially alumni now, how does that feel?