School is starting all over the country in what promises to be another strange year for kids and parents. I’ve seen many posts from friends and acquaintances who have kids entering their final year of high school, with musings of how they got to this point so fast. The river keeps moving, doesn’t it? Everyone is hoping the year is “normal” and not abbreviated or ruined by the pandemic. But even pre-pandemic, senior year brings mixed emotions for everyone involved.
As a teen life coach and music teacher, I’ve seen plenty of stressed-out seniors and parents over the years. Applications, early decision admissions, some heartbreaking rejections, the “lasts” of everything…it all takes a toll emotionally and physically if the stress gets out of control. While senior year is supposed to be great (and often is) I remember also feeling sad, worried, and confused at times, wondering why I was so emotional. I didn’t realize it was completely normal to feel this way at a transitional time in my life!
The last year of high school is exciting, happy, sad, wistful, inspiring, scary, and exhilarating all at the same time for kids and parents alike. Instead of racing through it, what if you let yourself feel everything, knowing that you are normal? When the “lasts” happen – the last marching band competition, the last soccer game, the last dance competition – I invite you to take some time and process it with your family and friends. Reminisce about the good things, what you learned and loved, and what you’ll miss about it. Feel gratitude for the experience. Breathe it all in, knowing that your participation helped shape you. You can mourn the end but I recommend focusing on the positive!
Do your best to not stress over the college applications. What if you focus on getting the college applications done and then trust that everything will unfold exactly as it’s supposed to, even if it isn’t the answer you want? College is the start of the journey, not the final destination. It’s the place you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever imagined possible if you’ll take the time to explore new things. My dad gave me the best words of advice when I went to school: he said “If all you ever learn in college comes from the classroom, then you missed the point.”
Remember too that you are allowed to change your mind! I attended my top-choice college right out of high school…and I discovered that it wasn’t a good fit. I left at the end of my freshman year, feeling let down and a bit like a failure, only to land where I probably should have been all along but couldn’t see at the time. You are allowed to change your major, you are allowed to quit a club, a team, or a Greek organization that isn’t serving you, and you are allowed to switch schools. This is the time to try things on and see how they fit; no one expects you to know everything as a freshman.
In the meantime, just take it all in and go with the flow of being a senior or the parent of a senior! Do your best to live in the moment because it’s really all we can do. If you’d like to know more about how I coach tweens/teens/young adults through transition times, please reach out to me at www.mindfulhealthandharmony.com