The next few weeks hold some of the most quintessential social events of high school: proms, graduations, and the last days with your friends from high school. Built up as the pinnacle of the year, they say these are the days you’ll remember forever and the make-or-break moment of high school. Stepping back, it’s a lot of pressure crammed into a few weeks.
At eighth grade sleepovers, in between freezing underwear and playing “truth or dare,” we’d steal prom magazines from the bedrooms of our older sisters and imagine what high school would be like.
We predicted that the boys would be tall, dark and handsome — ready to sweep us off our feet (instead of shorter than us, and trying to snap our bra straps like they did every day in middle school) and we would be thin, tan and glamorous in dresses imported from Paris (or at least bought new and not a hand-me-down). We would finally be adults and we’d remember it forever.
While it hasn’t been forever (more like a decade) I’m surprised by the memories that remain. High school held lots of choices and the consequences — for better or worse — remained long after the rental tuxes were returned and diplomas were framed. These are a few memories I’ve kept:
- What I remember: the moment we included someone who had been left out.
When I look through the boxes of pictures I have from high school, I can’t remember the names of the girls that I desperately hoped would like me. I do remember Lauren, however. She stands a bit apart from the group in many snapshots, looking uncomfortable.
One night we were all out for ice cream and when Lauren looked uncertain about where to sit, I gestured to the seat next to me and included her in the conversation.
You know the Laurens in your school. Make the choice to make them welcome.
- What I remember: the friends who encouraged and respected me.
How do you decide who your friends are? Scripture holds a lot of wisdom about friendship. A great meditation on how to be a blessing and be blessed by those in your company is Sirach 6.The author advises, “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter, whoever finds one finds a treasure” (Sirach 6:14).
A faithful friend wants what is best for you, what will ensure your safety and your health. A faithful friend encourages the truth in your relationship and your relationships with others (including your parents). Good friends reveal God. They are the ones you will keep.
Make the choice to be a friend who reveals God, even if it means having fewer friends.
- What I remember: fun days, fun nights and mornings with no regrets.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”
You have probably heard this exhortation from St. Paul, to the Corinthians many times, in relation to the choices you make. Often left un-read is the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:19, “you are not your own.”
In choosing what you do to commemorate these final days of school, whether after graduation, prom or band practice, at the forefront of our mind and hearts should be this reality that all is a gift from God, to be used for His glory. This doesn’t require walking around yelling, “hallelujah,” but it demands that our actions be a reflection of who we belong to. We are not our own.
Make the decision, now, to walk away from any situation that includes drugs, alcohol or sexual temptation.
I thought the memories I’d take from high school would be of glamorous outfits, pretty people, and epic parties. My memories are of moments that I chose to do what was right, even when it wasn’t easy or popular. These choices — and their consequences — are what will stay with you from these last days of high school and form you into the adult you’re becoming.