Our senior class will graduate high school in nine days. Four years of AP classes, dress codes and bells ringing every forty-five minutes ends for us, in exactly nine days.
The prep for the actual ceremony is chaos. Getting honor cords, paying that library fine I’ve had since sophomore year, studying for finals, so I get to walk across the stage. All this fuss, all this time, for three hours in a cap and gown, balancing in heels—on Astro-Turf—that I know are going to leave me with killer blisters. And all my friends are smiling. They’re excited to break away. They always talked about the oppression, the rules, the façade of high school, but what I want to know is, what are they going to talk about now? Who are they going to gossip about? How are they going to get anything done without constant reminders?
Class of 2015, what are we going to do now?
What about you, our All-District linebacker? Yes, I know you got into college. But am I supposed to pretend you won’t fail out after one semester and end up waiting tables at Chili’s, and end up back in the bedroom you used to sneak out of? The whole town knows you’re an All-District linebacker, but will anybody else? Let me ask you this, are you going to lose your mind when you miss a 10:00AM class and nobody— and I mean not a soul—lets you use their notes? I mean, don’t they know who you are? Don’t they remember all the girlfriends you had? All the parties you threw? Or is that someone else?
What the actual hell are we going to do when we are nobody to everybody? Because, we can’t be somebody we never were to them. We will never be the quarterback or the salutatorian to those people. Are we going to cry in our dorm rooms and call our moms when we realize that nobody cares about all we did for that freaking diploma? No one cares and be honest, no one includes us. The life we built with stacked milk cartons is over, knocked down. We can’t rebuild it, we have to walk away.
Class of 2015, we have to move on. And I hate to ask the obvious question but remind me again how I’m supposed to go about doing that?
What about you? It might make me feel better if you admit you’re as terrified as I am. Tell me that you’re going to cry when you hug me for the last time, even though we were only friends because I let you copy off my pre-cal quiz that one time. I just need to know, right this second, that I am not as alone as I feel, surrounded by all the people I’ve called my friends since we all sat down on the puzzle-piece foam mat in first grade. Yes, I know you’re cool. I didn’t forget that you won homecoming queen, how could I? But even though you’ve been building yourself up, working so hard to stack those bricks on the backs of other people, will you step down from your lunch table tower and pretend we’re equals? You’re a good actor, don’t lie and say you’re not. Just do me this one favor, and be real with me.
I think I have the right to be terrified. They’ve trained us for most of our life. Excuse me if I don’t know how to be anything else but seventeen years old. How do they have the audacity to shake my hand, give me a fake rolled up diploma, and release me into the wild when they all know there’s a good chance I’ll get eaten alive? I was taught how to graph functions, conjugate verbs in Spanish, and run a mile in under twelve minutes. Why didn’t they teach us the good stuff?
No one ever told me to tackle life like it owes me money, shake it down for all it has and make it give me more. High school didn’t teach me how to live. It taught me how to sit down, shut up, and do what I was told until the next year, so I could do it all again.
This diploma, the one we’re going to hold next Friday night when they start rattling off last names, is telling the world we’re free game. And I know, in my gut, that they won’t hesitate to pounce, not even for a second.
What about you homecoming queen? Doesn’t that scare you? Isn’t that sickening, biology lab partner? Is that what we deserve? Are we prey, or are we more?
And you, valedictorian, I know you are going to give a funny speech with backhanded compliments and botched motivational quotes, but I don’t want to hear about life from you. We’re in the same boat, in the same outfit, no life vest, no floaties. We’re going the same places, and forgive my imagination, but I can vividly see us sinking. And I love you, class of 2015, but I don’t want to die in alphabetical order.
We will drift apart over the summer. Some of you will leave early for athletic training, others will be late, like always. We’ve got plans, we’ve got dreams, we’ve got the life we want stuck in the forefront of our minds. But what do we really have, other than ideas and figments of our imaginations?
I’ll tell you the answer to that question: we’ve got each other.
What about you, “Best Smile”? When I’m struggling to pass college algebra, and you are eating alone because you can’t wear your “Best Smile” sash you got at prom, is it okay if we agree to be there for each other, in heart? I know you don’t like me, even though you’d never say it, but I will root for you if you do it for me. I won’t text you or follow you on Twitter. We don’t like each other, remember? You won’t say it so I guess I will. Instead, I will include you in my midnight prayers, and that is all. But help a sister out, ask the Big Guy to make sure I’m doin’ alright, too. We are so close to graduating. Until next Friday, you will probably feel obliged to compliment the hoodie I’ve worn for the past two days and pretend you care about what I’m doing with my life. I am okay with that. Honestly, I do those things too. But let’s not do anything irrational like we want to. No cutting ties, no blocking on Instagram. We’ve gotta look out for each other. All we have is the five hundred and thirty six people in this class, not including you. The only people out there that know what this feels like, what we’ve done and what we’re doing, how we feel and how we were raised, is us.
In nine days, we will graduate. After four years of fake hall passes, sideways grins, and scribbles on the bathroom stall doors, it all ends for us next Friday.
So do me a favor, class of 2015. Don’t make the moment I get my diploma the last time you clap for me or yell my name in excitement. Let’s make this “cheering for each other” thing a part of our lives. Instead of forgetting about me, give me a thumbs up every once in awhile. That’d be nice, and we at least owe that much. After all, we didn’t tell on each other after our senior prank failed miserably. I think, don’t get too excited now, but I think we might like each other. Scratch that, I think maybe we love each other.
And since none of you guys, yeah, I’m talking about you Mr. Class President, don’t wanna say it, I will.
Class of 2015, I love you. See you in the long run. Maybe we’ll have it figured out by then. Or maybe not. Regardless, I’ll smile at you. I promise senior class, when I see you, I will always smile.
Let’s never not be happy for each other.