People have told us for years to think about our future; our parents have bombarded us with questions about what we want to be when we grow up, our teachers have told us to think about subjects we should major in and our counselors have asked us where we're going to go to college. Every single local scholarship I am interested in applying for has requested that I give them the name of the institution at which I plan to enroll next fall, even though many of the scholarship applications are due before I've even found out if I've been accepted to my top choice school or not. Thinking about your future can be very stressful, and while it does fulfill a great purpose during a vast majority of your high school career, there are times when it isn't appropriate at all: specifically, the period of time between the day you submit your last college application and the time when you learn the results.
I know I am not alone in this -- many of my favorite people on Twitter and Tumblr have also been discussing the senior struggle -- and I think that it's time for us to be proactive about it. That's why I'm here to tell you six things that you could be doing for the next few months instead of thinking about your future, because I have now realized that there is absolutely nothing I can do about my college stress until that ever-so-far-away day in March when I find out where I've been accepted. If you're like me, maybe this will help.
Read a book, preferably a fantasy one. Read about someone else's future. Read about a wizard's future, a hobbit's future, a dragon's future -- someone whose future doesn't involve the same things yours will. Envelop yourself in a world where standardized tests and GPAs and college acceptance letters don't exist. Personally, rereading the Harry Potter series has been a source of more comfort than I ever thought possible. And when you're finished, read another book.
Don't watch so much television -- or, at least, be selective about the television you do watch. Don't watch television shows where the characters have it all together, because if you're like me, you absolutely do not have it all together right now. If you can avoid television, that's probably your best bet, but if you must, you should probably think about watching a show like Girls, or another show that includes characters who are just as lost as you feel right now. Make sure that the television you watch does not hold you to a higher standard than you already hold yourself -- and remember, if you watch reruns of Gossip Girl and their everyone-goes-to-an-Ivy-League mentality makes you hate yourself, only 0.4 percent of high school seniors actually go on to go to an Ivy League school. You're absolutely still human if you don't.
Take a road trip somewhere irrelevant. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm not sure where I'll be next year, and occasionally I'm reminded that I do know where I won't be: home. If that thought is as overwhelming to you as it has been to me, get out of your house. Spend too many hours at a coffee shop, hightail it to your grandparents' house for some of your grandmother's homemade cookies, go shopping or go to a concert or to the movies. There may be ten or fifteen places you're considering going next year, and there's one place you're definitely leaving; if you don't want to think about your future, don't go to any of those places. Go somewhere relaxing, with no strings attached.
Compile some resources. Sure, we all know those athletes that have already signed with their top choice college and we all have those friends who got in Early Decision, but there are plenty of people out there who are feeling the exact same way as us. Sometimes the biggest help can come from knowing that one of your friends is going through the same thing as you are. Even if you don't talk about your futuristic dilemmas, it's important to know that your friend understands you. If you don't personally know anyone who is going through the same issues as you are, that's no excuse -- reach out! I've made several friends through the HuffPost Teen community that are going through my exact same situation. Be proactive and make some friends who understand what you're dealing with.
Spend way too much time on the internet. This one is simple. Revitalize your Tumblr, spend too long coming up with a new Twitter biography, watch YouTube videos for a straight week -- everything is game (except College Confidential; only go there if you're really brave). Even if you personally know people who are dealing with the same things you are, you will likely find an entire community of many more seniors struggling to make it to graduation day or decision release day. The internet can be the safe haven you need.
Learn to appreciate feeling lost. No, it isn't fun at all. Yes, I'm tired of it. If I could jump six months ahead, I probably would. But if you think about it this way, it might help: how many times are you going to be at a point in your life that will be easily described as "lost?" Probably a ton. Post-college job hunts, house hunts, city hunts, romantic partner hunts... I promise, this isn't the end. But the good side of this is in a few month's time, you'll have some good experience being lost under your belt. It may not get any easier, but you'll know how to handle it, and if that's the only light we can see at the end of this tunnel right now, at least it's keeping me going.
Keep your head up, seniors. You'll make it. We all will.