Reflecting on high school graduation, 10 years later
It’s been an emotional graduation season this year.
I’m a few years removed from college at this point, so I usually forget all about graduation season. At least, until I’m trying to grab dinner during an early summer weekend and the waitlist is hours long and the restaurant is filled with smiling teens and 20-somethings. Then I remember.
But this year’s a little different. Not only did my little sister graduate from college, but I’m also celebrating two notable anniversaries this year: It’s been 10 years (!!!) since I graduated high school, and five years since I walked across the stage from undergrad.
While I want to say I can’t believe it’s already been a decade since I left high school with the rest of the class of 2007, it really does feel like so long ago. It’s been a whirlwind 10 years and I’ve changed so much. The change isn’t really noticeable day-to-day — or even year-to-year. But, when I look back at High School Randi dressed in a canary red cap and gown, nervously tottering across a gymnasium stage, a decade’s worth of change is glaringly obvious.
In a lot of ways, I’m still pretty unsure of myself. I work in an unstable industry, and I’m far from being “settled down” in that American Dream White Picket Fence kind of way… although, to be honest, that’s not what I want right now, and even though High School Randi didn’t exactly have a 10-year plan for her life, I think she’d be pretty content with where Grown Up Randi is at right now.
Hey, 17-year-old Randi,
Let’s start this by clearing some stuff up. You remarked a few weeks ago that you couldn’t wait until high school was over, because it meant the end of 6:30 a.m. wake-up calls. Yeah, you were pretty wrong about that. It’s been a decade since high school ended, and we’re actually waking up at 4:30 every day. So, congrats. You jinxed us.
But, waking up early isn’t hard when you wake up every day to a life filled with so much. So much passion, fun, wonderful company, joy. Grade school was rough, but those days of fending off bullies pushing you into lockers and tossing you into trash cans? Those are long, long gone. And — by the way — Mom was right. Those bullies? Most of them peaked in high school, and you never have to talk to them again.
Life will get a little scary after high school. You picked a university that requires a move across the state, and you’re in your first serious relationship. You’re convinced it will last because, you know, you’re a teenager. (Guess what? It won’t.) You’ll consider dropping out of your university to transfer to a community college closer to said boyfriend, but ultimately, you don’t go through with that. Thank you. I know it’ll be hard, but the ramifications from each and every time you pick your education, career and self-interests over a boy are far-reaching, and they will more than pay off down the road.
You’re doing everything right. You’re going to doubt yourself, overthink your interactions and compare yourself endlessly and needlessly to others. Stop. You’re unnecessarily harsh on yourself. Keep yourself in check, yes, but also — relax.
Over the next few years, you’ll experience a lot. Sometimes, little things like heartbreak, or getting fired from your dead end bar job will seem like the end of the world. But, you know what?
(This quote becomes a favorite of yours, and after watching almost three decades of your life unfurl, I’ll admit: It’s a good one.)
Stop judging your roommates for going out too much, and join them every once in a while instead. Don’t feel too guilty for skipping 8 a.m. editing class on occasion. Eat the second piece of cake. Empty your bank account for those music festival tickets. Live a little, take more risks. Don’t hesitate on so many aspects of your life, rather, jump right in. In 10 years, you’ll find yourself wishing you hadn’t waited to experience so many things.
A few more words of advice? Skip the tube top trend. Blunt bangs and bleach blonde eyebrows are not a good look for you, travel to Europe sooner rather than later, call your grandparents more often, wear more sunscreen, and for the love of God, please don’t run in high heels when your friend bets you $20 that you can’t do it.
But, if those are the worst mistakes you’ll make in the next decade, you’ll turn out OK.
Love, Future Randi