"If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew, just go right along and you'll start happening too." -- Dr. Suess
This quote has been printed uncountable times in the classic graduation picture book Oh, The Places You'll Go. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times I have signed that book on the coffee tables of seniors from my high school in the last month. The amount of thin-point Sharpies that have napped in the crevices of my right hand while I thought of something meaningful and memorable to contribute to their futures. The amount of times I've had to hold back from hugging and never letting go.
In 10 weeks, all of my friends and favorite acquaintances will be in college. Freaking out about how the size of their refrigerators has shrunk. Studying maps to find exactly where Psych 101 is. Catching whispers of being the new kids on the block. Without me.
I will be a senior in high school, finally stepping up to the plate that they have just moved on from with such grace and humanity. Clearly their stakes are much higher than mine, and they will find a niche in the huge transition of college life, while I'll still be eating off the same green lunch trays at 1:13 every single day. I have less to be afraid of, less to stew about, and yet, I feel like I'm facing one of the biggest high school hurdles I've yet to encounter.
I have people who will make my senior year go down in history, but the people who would make it unforgettable are moving on to bigger and better things, as all the invitations have told me. And I'm stoked for them. I'm so ready to see the juicy details of their adult lives unfold before my eyes, and I'm lucky to be alive in the FaceTime era. But alas, I remain cemented in a funk of maturity.
I'm not old enough to be a freshman in college: setting up meal plans and lying to my mom about making my twin size dorm room bed. But I have also lost my sense of belonging with my same-aged peers in high school. I've always been friends with the people a year older than me, with their already-annotated summer reading and top dog gossip. I've never followed an all-knowing crowd, but I've been inspired by how these ordinary people dealt with the punches of life. Now I am in a place of social leadership that is daunting without my best friends.
The real MVP who I will miss most is my unique, handsome, perfect-to-me, high school graduate boyfriend, Tim. (Before I pull out the wallet-size pictures and you close out of this article, know that I fully refuse to accept any comments about how this is a puppy love high school relationship. I don't care. Let me live. I deserve my puppy love, because it's real just the way it is.) We're about to hit the one-year mark, and it feels like all that time has passed faster than Barry Allen can run. All the emotional ups and downs, the afternoons spent watching back to back episodes of Chopped on the Food Network, getting to know someone like I know the tips of my toes and the quirks in my head. Our relationship has taught me more than AP European History ever could (still love you, Mr. Fields), and the lack of his presence this next year is sure to drain me of the same exuberance I've had.
The year difference between Tim and I has not been a challenge up until this point. In fact, it has taught us both more about each other, and quite frankly, the universe. He knows more about youth, telling jokes, and hacky-sack than I do. However, I bring a wave of nuance to the table that doesn't stray too far from his world, but adds an exquisitely complimentary depth. While he and I have quite a mosaic of a relationship, I still believe this whole concept stands for all of my friends a year older than me. I will always wish to remain in that junior-senior gap that doesn't so much feel like a gap, but a valid complexity in friendship.
The beautiful thing about that, aside from the natural finesse of these friendships, is that once I'm the senior in the equation, there will be new juniors, too. There will be people who will see me as older and wiser (by a mere eight months), and they will sign my graduation party guest book with the same sensitive dexterity that I have found in my own hands.
That being said, all I can do now is hope. I can hold my head high, with the support of people a text message away. I can walk into my stomping grounds with an attitude that will get me where I need to go. I can still be, without Tim's direct company, a high school sweetheart. And I can go places.
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