1. You will be fine. Promise. We know, we know: there’s the stress of starting all over again in college as a baby freshman, the crushing pressure of college tuition and student loan debt, the terror of taking charge of your own life. Despite it all, you will be totally fine. Yes, there will be weepy calls to mom when you can’t figure out how to turn on the iron and when that cute boy you meet during Welcome Week ghosts you (he’s the worst, don’t even worry about it). Life after graduation can feel like the drop after the peak of a rollercoaster — terrifying, sure, but also exhilarating.
2. Some friends will drift away. Even if it sounds unimaginable right now, your entire prom limo will not get together every summer to rent a house on the beach and reminisce about the good old times for the rest of your lives. Most people stay in touch with a handful of their very best friends from high school and that’s it. If that thought makes you sad, don’t worry: the people who are really worth keeping around in your life will always be there for you.
3. One friend will completely reinvent herself. You’ll see her one day and it’ll be like, huh? Are you really the same girl I’ve known since kindergarten?
4. Your life will basically become a Taylor Swift song. Happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time might be a line straight out of “22,” but it applies just as much to the period right after graduating high school. It’s normal to feel on top of the world and like you’ve figured it all out one day, and to feel like you’re hurtling toward adulthood way too fast the next. It’s a lot to process all at once. It’s OK to cut yourself some slack!
5. You and your high school boyfriend/girlfriend might break up, even if you swore you’d last forever. Not every pair of high school sweethearts ends up together in the long run, and that’s OK. Breaking up can feel like your heart is going through an FBI-grade paper shredder, but eventually, you’ll come out on the other side single, happy, and more mature.
6. You don’t grow up all at once. Graduation is a HUGE milestone, but it’s not like you flip your tassel from right to left and suddenly feel worldly and wise. You’re still gonna feel like a lost little kid sometimes, especially when it comes time to file taxes for that summer job or make a big decision about your college major. The secret is knowing that every single other person your age feels exactly the same way.
7. You become more fearless. Now that you have a diploma under your belt, the product of years of hard work and dedication, you know you can take on any challenge and complete it with gusto. You got this, girl. Nothing is tougher to accomplish than passing junior year chem, and you did that just fine.
8. It’s finally socially acceptable to friend-request your favorite teacher on Facebook. *adds* … *stalks*
9. Friendships will require more effort than they did before. In high school, you knew without fail that you’d bump into your best friend by your locker or in Spanish class every single day. But once you graduate, those friendships take a lotmore work to maintain. If you’re lucky enough to wind up attending the same college after graduation, you’ll still need to coordinate weekend plans and trek across campus to each other’s dorms. If you’re heading in separate directions, be prepared for your friendship to involve more FaceTime than face time. Tons of Snapchats, visits to each other’s campuses, handmade care packages just because you love each other are the key to keeping the friendship alive. Yeah, that’s a lot of work, but if you want to hold onto each other, it’s totally worth it.
10. You’re not the only virgin left on the planet. Every virgin thinks this after graduating high school, especially since zillions of movies make suuuuuch a big deal about losing your V-card before starting college (see The To Do List, American Pie, Eurotrip… or don’t!). Don’t be fooled by your friends’ wild hookup stories — 39 percent of college students are virgins. You’re not alone.
11. Your parents will probably expect more of you. For starters, they might not have minded when you skipped emptying the dishwasher so you’d have more time to study. But now that you’re out of school, they’re going to start treating you like a real adult, which means more responsibilities. Here’s the weird thing: doing the dishes feels way more rewarding now that you’re an ~adult.~ It’s like you’re beginning to see eye to eye with your parents in a really cool way.
12. You start to think differently about money. You know adulting is Expensive with a capital E. The sticker shock when you learned how much you’d be paying for college taught you that lesson for good. But now that you’re a high school graduate, you’ll be paying for your own gas, snacks, and clothes soon, and maybe even more. The drive to make and save as much money as possible is real. The first time you see a major number in your bank account is the most satisfying feeling on the planet.
13. This is the time to start working out regularly. You won’t be a high school soccer star forever and you won’t have mandatory gym class four times a week now that you’re an adult. Developing workout routines now is the key to staying active and healthy as an adult, whether that means taking classes at a yoga studio or going on regular hikes and jogs.
14. You’re in charge of your own time now. No 8 a.m.-3 p.m. schedule to keep you on track. Your life is your own and you can do ~whatever you want~ (warning: sometimes, that means tackling a load of laundry).
15. Your relationship with your parents might get rocky for awhile — but it’s only temporary. They’re clinging on tight, you’re chafing around the edges. Every time they tell you to pick up your socks from the living room floor, you want to mutter, “One more month until I can cover my entire dorm room floor with every sock I own.” The bickering won’t last forever, though. Most of it will evaporate when you move out.
16. You’ll get surprisingly sentimental over old things in your room. You’ll be sorting through your wardrobe to pack for college and stumble across the tiny baby onesie your mom saved from when you were a newborn, and then you’ll start thinking about how old you’ve gotten, and all the big adventures coming your way, and then you’re tearing up on the floor of your childhood bedroom.
17. You are perfect exactly the way you are right now. So what if you wish your thighs were smaller or you have a stubborn zit that just won’t go away? You are so unbelievably beautiful exactly the way you are today. In five years, when you look back at pictures from this time, you won’t see any of those supposed imperfections. You’ll see a stunning girl and wish you had felt like a supermodel all along. (This is why your grandma says “youth is wasted on the young.” If she could be your age again, she’d be celebrating her looks with a crop top and bright lipstick.)
18. Your room will be virtually unliveable with all the new stuff for your dorm piled up. There might be a tiny pathway from your door to your bed, but otherwise it looks like Bed Bath & Beyond is using your room as a storage facility.
19. You realize you’re actually pretty capable. Whether it’s the first time you successfully calm down a customer at your summer waitressing job or pull together a delicious meal without mom’s help, it feels good to know you can handle the grown-up stuff on your own. Get it, girl.
By Hannah Orenstein | Seventeen