So, Graduating High School, Huh?

Graduating high school: a milestone, an accomplishment, a celebration, a recognition, and a goodbye.

Over the past 13 years I kept good grades, I never failed a class, I participated in school and extracurriculars, I did community service, I made friends, I had fun, I made memories, I experienced stress and anxiety, I disliked some of my teachers, I loved some of my teachers, I grew, I learned, and I became stronger.

I made it to the last day of my senior year. But I am sad to say, I didn’t make it to school on the last day. I am sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee, a blanket on my lap, my hair in a messy bun, listening to John Mayer – a typical day for me. I never, in a million years, thought that this would be how I spent my very last day of high school. I managed to miss over 80 days total of my senior year. I’d like to thank Lyme Disease for that unfortunate fact.

As a senior in high school, I had dreams and hopes for this year. I wanted to go to hockey games, to basketball games, to go have fun with friends on Friday nights, to have friends who I could talk to consistently. But most of all, I wanted to go to school regularly. The past couple of months I tried my best to get to school 2 days a week. I just really wanted to be normal. However, I learned quickly that normal doesn’t exist in my world, and it won’t until I get better. Whenever I stayed home (the majority of the time) I would sleep and mindlessly watch Netflix. I don’t remember much of this entire year and I am extremely thankful for photographs. It gives me the ability to look back and see what I did. Pictures remind me of the smiles and laughs from football games; they give me a reference to school dances that I was able to attend; they give me insight to what I did on my 18th birthday; they let me remember my life. I can remember high school with a positive light because of pictures.

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So, to get on to my emotions of graduating high school. I, like many of my peers, am excited to graduate, but am sad to leave the place that taught me so much. I am excited to see what the future holds, but am sad because I won’t have the friends that I’ve had for so many years. However, I know I missed out on a lot this year. I missed the everyday human interaction, I missed social events, I missed learning everything I had wanted and intended to learn. I missed being the person I used to be. I lost motivation and drive. I lost the ability to learn, and that sucks. So, my emotions on graduating high school?

I don’t know how I feel. I know I missed out on a lot, but I have been so dazed and in such a fog for so long that emotions that I feel are limited. I don’t know how I am supposed to feel. Still, not many people understand what it’s like to have a good day when they wake up and then 10 minutes into being productive you find yourself in bed nearly in tears. My emotion about that situation is frustration. But I don’t feel frustrated about graduating. I feel excited, but conflicted because I am not sure what my future holds, so it’s hard to be excited about the unknown. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s a relief knowing I don’t owe anyone an 8 page essay, or a 4 page calc packet. I feel relieved of unneeded stress. I feel calm. However, I feel numb to the experience.

I am sad to leave the place that raised me. I am sad to say goodbye to the school district that gave me so much. I am happy to have met the people I did. I am happy to have had the experiences that I did. I am blessed to have the opportunities I was given. I am blessed to have been loved and encouraged by my family for my entire life. Graduating high school, I know, is supposed to be a sad, happy, exciting moment. But I said a temporary goodbye to my life 4 months ago and I am not sure when I will say a permanent hello again, therefore, to be happy and excited about moving on is a difficult thing to do. For the rest of my life, this moment of graduating high school will be stuck in a period of my life that I felt numb to.

I am sad to close this chapter of my life with such a dull feeling. I am relieved to know that graduating high school is possible and I did it. I am blessed to have gotten through this experience. I am grateful for the people who stuck by my side till the very end. I am thankful for everyone who I was lucky enough to know and learn from. I am calm but I am dazed. I feel numb to the experience.

Lyme disease has nearly destroyed me and continues to cause me pain and confusion, but I have faith in God that He will bring me through. He will give me strength. He will allow me to see clear once again. He will guide me through the next chapter and He will continue to be my editor and co-writer of my life. He will never fail me, no matter how many times I fail Him. This past 4 months of high school and sickness has taught me 20 things.

  1. Sometimes you just need to be alone
  2. It’s perfectly okay to be alone.
  3. Some people don’t deserve to see you break down, but don’t shut someone out just because they want to make you happy.
  4. Life doesn’t go as planned and sometimes spontaneity is the only answer.
  5. It’s okay to have only 4 friends who you trust.
  6. But don’t shut everyone else out just cause they don’t bring you Starbucks when you get home from the hospital, or they don’t call you at 11 p.m. and listen to you cry and be angry. People still care, just not everyone knows how to help.
  7. You will be okay, even if you feel like you just stepped into hell.
  8. It’s okay not to be okay (temporarily).
  9. It’s okay to be angry and frustrated, but remember, nobody made you be angry, you’re choosing to be angry.
  10. No matter how depressed and down you feel, God will listen, and eventually he will answer every prayer.. it’s just a matter of time (like everything in life).
  11. Don’t give up.
  12. If you feel sad or incapable, stop. Breathe. Do something that you know will cheer you up.. even if you think it’ll only make you happy for 5 minutes. Once you get endorphins going in your system, they’ll work for much longer than 5 minutes.
  13. Find someone who you can vent to, who you can be vulnerable with, but who you can also laugh with so hard you cry.
  14. Life is life, and it’ll keep moving at 100 mph no matter how much you want it to slow down.
  15. But, don’t let that discourage you, take that speed and use to your advantage. (This is something that you must interpret with your own perspective.)
  16. If sadness, madness, chaos and struggle weren’t a thing, we would never know what happiness, joy, calm and success is.
  17. You’ll understand why unfortunate things happen eventually.
  18. Being happy is a relative term; do what makes you happy, not what makes the rest of the world happy.
  19. Pain and hurt are also relative terms.
  20. Being judged and talked about negatively hurts, so don’t do it to other people. It’s bullying.

Though those 20 things may seem simple or cliché, they are the truth. As an 18 year old, it’s sad to say that I’ve met adults (much older than I) who still don’t understand those concepts. I say understand because to understand is to acknowledge, not to pursue. It’s hard to follow through with those ideas, to press play on a consistently positive life is hard, I know. Feeling numb to one of the most exciting milestones of my life to this day sucks, but I know that thinking positively about the experience and remembering the happiness of the event, will leave me feeling something other than numb, I just have to figure that out.

Life throws shitty situations at us without instruction manuals and we have to figure out how to feel, what to say, how to act, what to do, where to start and when to surrender to God. But, if we live with positivity in the horizon, we will realize that surrendering to God should be the very first thing that we do when we come across a struggle that leaves us feeling hopeless. With surrendering to God first, he will give us the instruction manual. He will give us the grace and faith to act, feel and talk in the way He would.

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For all of the graduating seniors out there, congratulations! Remember what it feels like to accomplish something so huge! Remember the ups and downs, the love and hate, the good and bad, and learn from them. You have the knowledge to carry on and to get through much bigger now. Try new things, be a part of something bigger than yourself. Think critically but don’t judge. Be open minded with people, ideas, and opportunities. Don’t take health and happiness for granted. Have open arms and see the light in everyone. Trust in God always. He will never fail you even when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. He will take care of you through college, your travels, your sickness, your relationships and your careers. Learn to lean on Him when you fall, and know that asking for forgiveness is never a sign of weakness. Have humility and be humble. We will all make it out okay as long as we have faith.

For all of the underclassmen out there, keep going! No matter how big the hill looks for the rest of your high school career, you will make it. Don’t turn an opportunity down because you feel embarrassed. Embrace your interests and skills, do what you’re good at but don’t be afraid to try something new. Live your life because you love it, rather than to impress people. You don’t have to be perfect at everything to make your parents proud, and you don’t have to have an excuse for every mistake you make. God is forgiving and He teaches us to forgive not just others, but also ourselves. Be confident in yourself and don’t let someone tell you what you can and cannot do. Don’t worry about a reputation, because chances are, when you go to college, people there are going to care about what your passions are, where you’ve traveled and what kind of food you like. They aren’t going to care how many boy/girlfriends you’ve had. Go shopping by yourself and buy what you like. Don’t worry about getting approval from someone who will probably judge you no matter what. Do your homework and know that discipline is a good thing every now and then. Be spontaneous, go on an adventure to the city with friends and get totally lost. Don’t spend your weekend inside watching Netflix. Take pictures with your phone to remember the moment, but don’t sit on your phone ignoring your surroundings. Getting drunk every weekend doesn’t make you cool or uncool. If you like to party, go for it, but remember that people who don’t party aren’t any different in the end. If you don’t like to party, remember the people that do aren’t any less of a person than you. Little do you know, the guy who gets wasted every weekend who sits beside you in class, may have a 4.0 GPA. Get involved in school, be a contributing student to your community. Make a difference and don’t be ashamed to show your faith. Surrender to God. If something bad happens to you, seek love and understanding. Stressing about a test is good for you, but don’t let it paralyze you. A little bit of nerves helps you perform better, but a lot of nerves can make you forget everything you learned. Seek help when you need it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your teachers are there to help you become successful, even if it’s not obvious in a classroom setting. Keep your guard up, but don’t be cold. Smile at people in the hallways and pick your head up – look alive. Remind your parents that mental health days are needed once in a while and that your sanity is much more important than the government lesson about the legislative branches. Don’t let your future scare you, everyone goes through phases of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Apply for college early, don’t leave those applications for the last minute, especially cause May 1st is right before AP testing and you don’t want to be stressing like that. Apply for scholarships, all of them! College isn’t free and if you don’t want to be stuck with a financial burden when you graduate college, you’re gonna need whatever money you can get. Do community service and build relationships with organizations, companies or church personnel. These things help you become more apt for the real world and they’re good resources for letters of recommendations. Never be afraid of chasing your dreams and if you fail once, just try again. Walt Disney failed more times than you can imagine, and I bet that the majority of you have been to one of his amusement parks at least once in your life. Be strong in your character and be motivated for the sake of your dreams. Let God guide you.

I know that graduating is a huge deal and I know that I need to be excited and overjoyed. I know I need to be sad and overwhelmed at the thought of never seeing people again. However, the only thing I am overwhelmed about right now is the thought of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 2 hours waiting for my name to be called. I am feeling anxious about getting weak and stumbling over my own feet as I walk across the stage. I am feeling sad because I didn’t finish high school the way I dreamt. I am feeling excited because I don’t have to worry about not going to school, coming in late or leaving early. I am feeling numb because this is all just a lot for me to handle. It’s a lot for all of us to handle, and I know that we are all feeling a bit anxious and excited and sad. But we all have different reasons for these emotions. We all have different stories and experiences from high school. We all have different futures and opportunities waiting for us at our respected universities, travel programs and jobs. We all must be strong in our first step off that stage. We must be confident in our decisions. We must have faith in God that he will carry us to the next page. We must have strength to understand that life moves quickly. As graduating seniors, it’s important to see positivity in the future, to see the light instead of darkness, to see hope in the uncertainty, and to feel loved in the battle of the unknown.

For the seniors who are graduating, I wish you good luck in the name of God. I pray that the next chapter of your lives will be bigger and better than ever before.

For the parents/grandparents/guardians of graduating seniors, I want to say thank you on 88d666abd1c1156a9fc86e1bd5c03402.jpgbehalf of all of us. We couldn’t do this without you. We wouldn’t have any clue where to begin our next journey. Thank you for encouraging us to do better, and for supporting us when we felt like falling. Thank you for loving us when we felt nobody else did, and thank you for your wisdom and advice when we felt lost or confused. Thank you for being proud of us and showing us that we are capable of much more than we thought. Thank you for the grace and the care you extended to us when we screwed up, and thank you for the high-fives and hugs when we accomplished something. Thank you for showing us the love of God and teaching us that hard work leads to opportunities and that opportunities lead to success. Thank you.

I started this post with describing what graduating high school is. I will end it by sharing what graduating high school means to me.

Graduating high school means to me: success, an accomplishment, a time to be grateful, a time to celebrate, a time to remember the good and the bad, something to be proud of, a chapter ending, and a new beginning.

Happy graduation season!

Xoxo,

Elise Hendrickson

“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”

P.S. Thank you to my big brother, mom, dad and the rest of my family for all of your support and love over the years, but especially as I figure out life with Lyme.

P.P.S Thank you to those friends who haven’t given up on me and who cared about me when I didn’t even care about myself. You know who you are.

Image credit:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/173541069/dr-seuss-quote-typed-on-typewriter-4×6

http://www.craving4more.com/tag/the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower/

http://sherryaphillips.com

 

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