So You Went and Made Friends With the Big Kids, or How to Say Goodbye to the Graduating Class

Say Goodbye

Some of us are currently stressing about finals. Some of us are currently stressing about whose afterparty we’re going to after prom. Some of us just finished binge watching our new favorite TV show and are left feeling empty and wondering what the meaning of life is – did I say that out loud?

Yet still some of us might be kept up at night with a knowing feeling in our stomachs. We might scroll through Instagram or Twitter and see the happy and excited faces and feel our hearts fill up with premature nostalgia.

say goodbye 2017
Why don’t they warn us about falling in love with seniors?

Now, ‘falling in love’ is a loose term that I used because it sounded pretty in that rhetorical question, but the point I’m trying to make is that all of my best friends are seniors, and I’m a junior, and I’m going to have to say goodbye.

This school year I transferred from a school that I was at for five years to a school where I knew nobody, and could barely hope to find a place among all the pre-established friendships. Little did I know that I had nothing to worry about. I soon found myself snuggled into the open arms of my new school’s drama club, with more new numbers added to my phone in the first month than in my last 2 years of high school. Everywhere I went I was greeted with a smile, and every smile that came my way was answered with one of my own.

From August to now I’ve given and received rides, gone out for sodas or milkshakes or junk food, gone on coffee runs to get everyone through production weeks, seen movies, and so many other little things with my new friends. Every single one of them is unique and beautiful and I thank my lucky stars that I got the chance to meet them this year, my first year at this school and their last.

Now the end is nigh. My friends are barreling through doors with flushed cheeks and beaming smiles and choruses of “I got in!”. They’re leaving Scottsdale for far-off locales like New Orleans, Flagstaff, Olympia, San Diego, Chicago, Valencia, and even (shudder) downtown Phoenix. And I know freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all over the country are going through the exact same thing with their beloved seniors.

So here are five ways to cope when you have to say goodbye:

•   Spend time with them while you can
•   Take every chance you can to be with you friends: getting nails done, watching movies together, listening to music with them, or even just going for a car ride. In this hazy post-spring break yet pre-finals world there’s always room to squeeze in some time with the people you love
•   Take pictures
•   This one’s a given, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Whenever something happens that you know you’ll want to remember, snap a picture so you know you can hold on to it forever
•   Support them
•   As much as you don’t want them to leave, you have to make sure they know how happy you are that they’re working toward their dreams. Try and ask them about what they’re excited about and what they have planned because it’s nice to see how happy they get when they talk about what they’re going to do
•   Exchange mementos
•   Maybe save this one for extra close friends, but it can never hurt to give them little things to remember you by, like a framed snapshot or a stuffed animal or you could even exchange t-shirts so you can have a little piece of them and they can have a little piece of you
•   Remember how hard it’s going to be for them
•   You’ve got to stay realistic and remember that they’re going to go through the biggest change of their lives

You love them and you’re going to miss them like crazy, but some of them are moving away from their families and are facing the reality of being independent for the first time. They’re probably scared to death of what the future holds, no matter how excited they are to be done with high school

It’s also important to know that they’re not leaving you behind; they’re moving at the exact same pace as you, they just have a head start. Soon it’ll be your turn to break the hearts of juniors and underclassmen when you have to leave for college. It’s a vicious cycle, and there’s not a lot we can do about it, but we can’t let the fear of getting hurt stop us from making friends.

It’s better to know them now than to have never known them at all, and I’m going to be telling myself that every day until graduation so I don’t have a breakdown over how much I’m going to miss them.

Also published on Medium.