I’m sorry, seniors, but your time is rapidly coming to an end.
(Don’t worry … I’m talking about seniors in high school, not senior citizens).
This week marked the start of the final quarter of the year for most schools in the area — in other words, the beginning of the end. For high school seniors, that means your mandated time in the public education system is dwindling. In a few short weeks, you will be freed from the shackles of academia and allowed to go about living the rest of your life.
For many of you, I imagine the end can’t come quickly enough. By this point in time, you’ve had just about enough of writing papers and solving for X. You look forward to a time when your life is no longer ruled by a series of bells that go off throughout the day, signaling it is time for you to be herded through sterile hallways amid rows of lockers standing sentry alongside your path to the next classroom.
I’m guessing many of you are hoping these last few weeks fly by so you can put on that cap and gown, grab your diploma and start preparing for college, the military, the workforce or whatever it is you want to do for the next 60 years or so.
For those of you about to graduate in a few weeks and get the heck out of town, I have one simple piece of advice.
Sure, it’s been a long journey for you to get to this point, but I would encourage you to not view this final quarter as a sprint to the finish line, but rather a victory lap celebrating all that you have accomplished thus far in your life.
You’ve worked hard to get to this point, why not enjoy it a little bit before it ends? You’ve got the rest of your life to tackle more adult pursuits. Take it from an old man: you should be treasuring these times. It’s a brutal world out there. Sure, there’s plenty of wonderful adventures that await you, but there’s also plenty of things like mortgages, taxes and trying to figure out term-life insurance (I still haven’t).
I won’t go so far as to say your high school years will be the best of your life (at least I certainly hope not, because nobody wants to peak at 18), but I will say there’s going to come a point in your life where you come to appreciate the unbridled joy and innocence of youth.
You should savor these final few weeks as your high school careers wind down. You are going to miss it when it’s gone. And that’s coming from a guy who didn’t even have a particularly notable high school experience. Attend all the school events you possibly can. Talk to kids you may not have had much to do with the past four years. When you are doing certain things for the final time, stop long enough to recognize what you are doing and let the hairs on your arms stand up just a little bit.
Things are going to change pretty fast once you graduate and begin going about the business of living your life. Some things will change for the better. Some for the worse. But rest assured, everything will be different. You’re going to miss many of these moments. I’m not even necessarily talking about the big things, like going to prom, starring in the school play or football games on a Friday night, either.
I’m talking about the little things, too. Sitting on the senior bench. Going out to your favorite fast food restaurant with your friends. Texting late at night when you probably should have gone to sleep hours ago. Throwing shade on Twitter at students who attend a rival school.
Sure, you can probably still do many of these things after you graduate, but it’s going to have a totally different feel. Like any other transition from one phase of life to another, you can never truly go back again and recapture what has faded into the past.
Once it’s gone, it’s never coming back. So be sure to soak it all in while you can.
After all, you’ve earned it.
David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.