February 19, 2013

Teen Talk: Advice for high school seniors: Enjoy your final semester

DEAR READERS: I have a confession to make: I love Mitch Albom books. Some call them predictable or cheesy, but I find life lessons in them and I love a book that makes me think about the choices I make.

DEAR READERS: I have a confession to make: I love Mitch Albom books. Some call them predictable or cheesy, but I find life lessons in them and I love a book that makes me think about the choices I make.

One of my all-time great reads was "Tuesdays With Morrie." While I usually love to pass on my favorite books to friends, that is one book I have treasured and never given away.

Recently, I read his newest book, "The Timekeeper." It is written in a fable form, moving back and forth among different time periods. The story causes the reader to realize what a fast-paced and hurried life we tend to lead.

That said, I wanted to address this week's column to high school seniors and the time they have left before moving on to college or whatever lies ahead.

DEAR SENIORS: Congratulations on making it to your final semester of high school. What a great accomplishment you have almost finished. Though the end is near, it is not here yet and you still have a few months before you don that cap and gown. You still have plenty of time to enjoy the last few months of school and make a few memories that you will carry into adulthood.

One thing I hear most from high school seniors is, "I can't wait to be finished." They count down the moments, and graduation day seems to the sole focus of the last few months.

They forget to slow down and realize what is happening. They forget to embrace the last few months of high school and appreciate the relationships they have made along the way. They want to be done so badly that they can't seem to see what sits in front of them.

I get it – you have gone to school for 12 long years and you want to celebrate when this stage in your life is over. You have made it. Some made it seem easier than others, but as a class you have walked the last 12 years together.

But if you walk through the next few months focused on just one day at the very end, you will miss out on moments and memories that you can never get back. Make the choice to spend your time enjoying these last days of high school instead of wishing them away.

Second semester senior year is filled with many "lasts" compared with freshman year, which contained many firsts. You will go to your last pep rallies, school assemblies, high school sporting events, dances that give you the opportunity to dress up and show your personal style, sign your final yearbooks or be in your final school concert or play.

After high school you may never pick up that trumpet or never go to a play where you know almost everyone who is in it and remember some of them from when they were in kindergarten.

Stop focusing on "then" and try to enjoy "now." Spend your time wisely. Take the time to stop and reflect on what you will remember most about high school. Some of the friends you have made you may not see again for many years, and your time with them will never be the same. Go to Senior Picnic. Have fun at Senior Breakfast. Join your friends at Senior Sunset. Never skip Senior Ball. Talk to everyone, not just those in your tight group.

Slow down enough to try and connect a little with everyone whom you feel has been a part of your growing up. Go visit your favorite teacher from elementary school or maybe one you had a freshman who made an impact on you that you won't forget. Maybe you drop in on an old coach or a music teacher who inspired you to join jazz band. Step out of your comfort zone and visit with those who have mattered to you.

Many high school seniors forget to enjoy the moments because they are fixated on where they will land next year. They check out of the present because the future seems more exciting.

Time is a gift. That is why we call it the present. How you spend it is your choice. Stop counting the days and start making the days count.

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