Dear Senior...

Dear Senior,

I know at this time your emotions are probably reeling as your world seems out of control. You are trying to graduate high school, plan for life after graduation, and secure a date to the prom - all at the same time. It may feel like life is at its peak, but at the same time whatever decision you choose could drastically change your entire life direction. Rest assured that the best is yet to come.

When preparing for college, I want you to think long and hard about it. Are you ready for a four-year institution, or should you do a two-year school and then transfer to a bigger institution? Should you pursue your bachelor’s, or just get a certificate? It all is up to you and what discover as your inner passion. It's also ok to not know and to be unsure. We live in a society that expects for everything to be figured out at 18, when people at 45 are still making life-changing decisions.

The career path you choose now may not be for you in 20 years, and I am here to tell you that is just fine. Do not compare your life to anyone else’s, because we all fall, experience different wins, losses, mountains, and valleys. This is your life, and you are the only one who gets to live it.

Know that high school is not the end. I know right now prom, dating, and making it to every game in the freshest outfit seems to be the most important, but life goes on after high school. So, what if things aren’t going entirely according to the plan you wanted? Do not get derailed from the end goal. Not having a prom date is not the end of the world! The most important thing you should be focusing on is your grades, test scores, and becoming more involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges are interested in making sure that you are have a good balance of social, academic, and professional growth.

With all this future planning, it's easy to forget to live in the moment. Enjoy your youth while also preparing for the next chapter of your life. It is okay to be unsure, and confused about the next step. You just have to be motivated to take the first step. You will always be your biggest opponent, and it is important that you keep yourself motivated. Set small goals for yourself and reach them at your own pace.

This life is a marathon, not a sprint. It is important to pace yourself. Sometimes you will get denied, and people will tell you no, but use that as more motivation to keep going. If one door closes, just go through a window.

Use that 'no' as an opportunity to know it is just not meant for you yet. Create connections with different influential people in your life that can be of value to you. These people could serve as mentors, or letters of recommendations. You also never know who you know that could help get you to the next level.

Seniors, I sincerely hope you live. I hope you relish in the little time you have left in your adolescence. I hope you take on the world with more fierce confidence than I ever could. I hope you reach out for help when you need it, while still passing down gems to younger children. I hope you never forget where you come from, and use it to propel you forward. Remember this is the beginning of some of the best mornings of your life! Good Luck!

- Jennifer Harris

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