Let me start with this: I am so sorry! I know there are so many things about senior year that you have been anticipating and preparing for in this last part of your high school career. Senior year and graduation are a rite of passage. Expectations mount and now you are disappointed.
I loved the last week of school when my friends and I signed each others’ uniform shirts, played around with teachers like they were becoming our peers, and reminisced on the past 4 years. That was a fun and hopeful time. I am grateful we had those days and that I developed the film (ask a parent what that is)!
Now let me be honest. From the influence of movies and memories of older generations, I had some pretty high expectations of senior year. Prom wasn’t magical. Graduation night wasn’t as big as I expected. And I don’t have a ton of memories of each day like I thought I would. I also have some regrets.
Here’s how I think you can make the most of this unwanted/strange opportunity:
I regret spending almost no time with my family. I thought making the most of senior year meant that I had to be completely consumed with my friends (we were all going away to college, after all) and a boy (who I broke up with right after college started). Most of those friends and I lost touch during the college years, but my family is still my family. I wish I had invested more into those family bonds and memories. That was really the last time I was part of their home on a regular basis and I miss it more than I could have imagined.
You have the opportunity to really invest in those relationships. Your parents are struggling with having to let you go soon. Your siblings are probably really curious about what life with be like without you living there. Deepen those bonds now, let their love for you (and shared faith) be the biggest influence on your life just before you head out on your own. Ask some questions, share your thoughts. Take advice from the people who brought you into this world and know you best. Your future self with be so glad you did.
You know what the best part of prom was? The pictures! Maybe that’s because we didn’t have a camera in our hands 24/7 and we didn’t spend hours on the perfect makeup contour when we were bored back then. But the dress shopping, getting ready with my friends, and taking pictures in our glamorous states was the best part to me!
Here’s what you can do: If you’ve already bought the dress – wear it! Get your friends on a video chat of some sort and do your hair and makeup together. Get all dressed up and have a virtual prom. Seriously, how great will those pictures be? And what a story to tell when we talk about “way back in 2020 when there was that pandemic”! If you haven’t bought the dress – make one. This is a great time to get that family involved. Make a whole evening of it. And send me the pictures!
It was very exciting to put on the cap and gown and walk across the stage when my name was called. But the cap and gown and stage weren’t what made it exciting. It was knowing that life was changing. I was reaching adulthood (which isn’t always as fun as I expected). There were parties and celebrations, but I honestly don’t remember much about them now. I wish I had put more focus on the people who raised me and got me through all those years of school – not just my parents, but the people who prayed for me and invested in me.
I’ve seen a lot of ideas floating around the internet already – schools renting drive-in theaters for an on-screen graduation, delaying the ceremony until mid-summer, etc. I love those ideas and I hope they really happen, but something meaningful you can do for yourself to create your own experience may be writing a speech to deliver in video from or even in the mail thanking all of the people who have been with you along the way. You’ll still get cards in the mail and gifts, don’t worry!
I know there’s more to senior year than prom and graduation. There are classes you actually enjoyed. There are circles of friends who will never get to gather again. It’s all quite sad and you have every right to mourn those losses.
But I also want to encourage you to find ways to honor those things. Show choirs and bands and drama departments are finding ways to complete the shows they’ve been working on all year virtually. If your school isn’t already doing it, then be the one who starts it. Don’t stop learning! Don’t stop over the next 9(ish) weeks and don’t stop learning over your entire life. I’m still learning a lot myself.
So, CLASS OF 2020, as you wade through this “weird” time with the rest of us, I encourage you to learn all that you can about yourself, about life, about love. Be the one who makes this better for yourself and your peers and the people around you. There’s going to be something special in your future. The way you handle this will set the tone now.