When I graduated high school four years ago, I was naive enough to believe that not much would change, at least not all at once. Sure, I would move out and start university, but I was adamant that I would still keep in touch with all my friends from high school and go back to visit as often as I could. Most of my friends ended up going to the same few universities, living with each other in residence and coordinating class schedules. I, on the other hand, only knew a couple of people that I would be going to school with in Toronto, which was a city far bigger than the small towns my peers chose. To say I realized how much, and how quickly, life was changing would be an understatement. One day I was hanging out with friends on our lunch break, and the next I was figuring out how to make a whole new group of friends. However, the years that followed high school have been some of my best.
Luckily, I’ve learned a bit of knowledge along the way to help your transition become a bit more seamless than mine, and I’ve listed it here. It’s helped me learn to navigate life post high school, and I’m passing on the knowledge so you hopefully won’t have to make as many mistakes as I did.
Maintain your friendships
The biggest shock once you graduate is how everything seems to change at once. Don’t fret, it’s completely normal and just a part of life. Due to COVID-19, we are becoming accustomed to facetiming and texting as our main sources of communication, but maintaining relationships after high school can be a bit more difficult. Everyone is on their own journey, people are busy, and for once in their lives, they have the freedom to explore and figure themselves out. Just like you do! You may go from texting your best friends all day everyday to a few times a week, or even less. That doesn’t mean you aren’t BFFs anymore. Give them, and yourself, space to grow and explore this new chapter of your lives. It is an exciting time, but make sure to put effort into your friends, especially your girlfriends, as having a support system during this transitional period is extremely important. One tip I found helpful was setting up a FaceTime date once a week with my friends from high school to keep us up to date with what was happening for each other, and it took the pressure off of texting or snapchatting all the time!
Remember that everyone is on their own journey!
There are many paths to consider after high school, and it’s important to find a path that fulfills you and aligns with your dreams and aspirations, whether that’s pursuing post-secondary education (i.e., college, university, vocational or technical schools and programs—there are a ton of options!), working full-time, taking a gap year or something different. With this new found freedom, it’s important to take time to figure out what you want to do and what will bring you happiness. But it is also important to remember that this is a time where everyone is on their own journey and paving their way, which might not align with yours. Just because your path doesn’t look like everyone else’s doesn’t mean it isn’t what you should be doing. Have confidence in your decisions and support your friends in theirs.
Take care of yourself
With so many changes occurring around you, self-care can easily slip your mind, but it is essential to continue to take care of yourself and your mental health. Carve out time in your week to practice self-care, reflect and check in with yourself. This time can be particularly stress-inducing. If you have chosen to attend a post-secondary program, the workload and time requirements may be overwhelming, and you can find yourself having more anxiety than you are used to. Utilize your school’s mental health resources and reach out if you need help. Something that saved me from having endless mental breakdowns in university was ensuring I took one night a week to myself. Whether I spent it cooking myself a nice dinner or having a bath, I knew I had one night dedicated to focusing on me!
These are just a few tips and tricks that helped me through the tough transition period between high school student to full-fledged adult. The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to do it—everyone is going at their own pace and to the beat of their own drum. Use this time to fall in love with yourself and figure out what makes you happy and fight for that no matter what. Remember that you aren’t alone, to reach out when you feel anxious or overwhelmed, understand that everyone is on their own journey, and keep your friends close: they’re one of the best support systems you can have!
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