Dear rising senior

Dear Rising Senior, 

There’s a lot of hype around this year. There’s a lot of pressure because of this year. You’ll face mystery, suspense, serenity and chaos. The expectations you have may or may not come to life. It’s fun, and it’s overwhelming. You feel everything— all the fun at football games, all the sweat at dances. You also feel nothing— protection against the agony of not knowing what your next years will look like. How do you handle these mixed emotions?

The first issue I had to overcome was learning to say no. Opportunities will relentlessly smack you in the face because you’re top dog. You’re the oldest and, therefore, the leader. But you can’t handle a hyperactive social and academic calendar without throwing away mental health. You must seek out one thing first: balance.

The second issue I had to overcome was dealing with change. Uncertainty of and impatience for the future changes the people around you. You’ll find yourself crying (probably more than usual) and fighting with family and friends (definitely more than usual). 

The most important issue I have yet to overcome is taking time with your loved ones for granted. There’s so much life ahead of you, but enjoy the moment. Challenge yourself to grow— whether that’s by going to your first dance, crowd-surfing at football games or saying hi to a stranger. Always tell people what they mean to you, and set apart time from your day to make others feel special. 

In the chaos of this year, don’t lose respect for yourself. You are stuck with you for your whole life. There’s magic to this year, but there’s also pain. I hope you end it smiling.