Dear Future Graduates: An Open Letter

High school will suck.

It will. There’s no way to get around it, no if, ands, or buts. There are no cheat codes, no shortcuts, and no get-of-jail-free cards. You will be a single speck in a sea of kids trying to survive and you will get swallowed up and swept away in the tide. You will.

Girls you thought were your best friends will stab you in the back and leave you in the dust. Some will call you names, maybe even tell you they wish you were dead. Some will just grow out of you. Maybe you’ll grow out of them. Sometimes, they’ll stop being your friend a long time before they really do.

Things will happen. Maybe you’ll find yourself lost and destroyed and having to support a girl with no idea how. Maybe you’ll have to become an unofficial therapist in tenth grade because the girl you think is your best friend tells you she wants to kill yourself, because she’s drowning in herself and she doesn’t know how to fix it.

(You think maybe she wants to drown you, too, but you keep doing it because she’s your friend, right? Right?)

And then maybe you tell the guidance counsellor in eleventh grade and she doesn’t speak to you anymore and you’re not sure if that’s better or worse.

The boy you had a crush on in eighth grade will become a f**kboy by the end of high school. Boys who used to be sweet will ask you for nudes and stop talking to you when you don’t give them. The boy you stare at in science will have a crush on a more popular girl and won’t even spare you a second glance.

The assignments will be hard. You won’t get As on everything. You won’t be perfect. You will mess up and you will burn out. Some days you will go home and cry because you’re so exhausted, because you’re just so goddamn done and you don’t think you can do this—laughing, living, pretending—anymore.

But you can. I promise. You’ll pick yourself up and do it all over again the next day. And every time, you get a little tougher. You harden your heart. You survive.

You move on.

Because that’s high school. And it sucks.

But here’s the thing: maybe it doesn’t.

Yes, you’ll leave with different friends than you started with. Yes, girls are horrible and shallow and catty and they will tear you to shreds if you let them. But you’ll make new friends, new allies. You will create your own army of people who have seen you at your worst and still love you, people who will fight for you no matter what. And maybe boys don’t call you beautiful like the pretty-perfect girls you look up to, but one says he likes how hard you work and that’s even better. Maybe you’re seventeen and you’ve never been kissed, never been on a date, never been someone’s something. It’s okay. Please, trust me. There will be time. There will be boys.

And the truth behind it all is that you won’t realize how much you’ll miss high school until it’s almost over.

One day you’ll pick up sheet music from your Grade 9 Orchestra and you’ll feel like crying because you were there, because you were a part of something glorious and you never realize how much you’ll miss it. One day you’ll stand on a stage with the people you’ve shared it with for four years and you’ll play the theme song of your childhood and beam as the emotion presses up against your throat. One day you’ll stand on top of a mountain in a foreign country with two of your best friends in the whole world and just let all the stress wash away.

One day you’ll walk across a stage in a gown and cap and you’ll feel weightless because God, you made it. You made it.

After everything, you finally did it. You did it.

And for once you feel like you deserve the applause.

If no boy asks you to prom and no boy dances with you, it’s okay. God, it’s more than okay. Because you’ll be surrounded by friends who love you and appreciate you and you will dance with them and maybe—just maybe—be able to finally let go of everything that’s been keeping you back. You’ll dance your ass off all night and not care because that’s the point of life and you know come Monday people are going to look at you weird but that’s Monday. And right now, you couldn’t care less.

Because maybe you were never a supernova. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a star.

High school will bleed you dry. But you will survive, and one day it won’t hurt so bad. And at the end of the day, you will miss it. You will laugh and cry at the same time because you forgot how wonderful it could be. You will miss joking with your friends in French or walking home with someone you’ve known since grade four. You will miss the theme song of your favourite movie playing in the announcements.

You will miss it.

Life will beat you down. But it’s your job to pick yourself up, give life a big middle finger and say I will keep going.

Your mountain is waiting, kid. All you’ve got to do is find it.

Because you can do this.

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