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An open letter to the girl about to be a senior (aka my sister)

Hey, sis—congratulations are in order. After all, you've made it through 11 of 12 years of your primary and secondary education. That's a *huge* deal. A lot of people don't make it or checked out years ago, but you've done it with limbs and GPA both intact. I've been there along the way to cheer you on, proofread papers and tell you when you were wrong, but the last few years I've been on my own journey in college and you've been crushing it on your own.

You've grown up on me, sis. First football game, first kiss, fist friend fall-out, first F—you've done it all. Every day you become a little bit more independent and sassy and it's all prepping you for the transition that's starting right now. The Common App will be open before you know it, deadlines will start approaching, senioritis will start setting in. It's getting really real: You're going to college. 

But before you jump the gun and start stressing about recommendation letters or prom dresses, I strongly advise that you take a moment to reflect and just enjoy the moment. I know you've been dreaming of graduation since your second day of freshmen year, but remember that once it's over, it's over. Your friends—the people you've seen everyday for the past four plus years—will be spreading out all across the country to start their own lives. The comfortable home you grew up in is probably going to become the place you only visit a few times a year and homecooked meals will be a thing of the past. And so will that 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. class schedule you've become accustomed to.  

We call that the real world. It comes with freedom but it also comes with responsiblity. You've been preparing for this your whole life, but please don't take the last few moments of your life as high schooler for granted. Go to every football game (even paint your face!), say thank you to all the teachers who have helped you through the last four years. And go to prom, with or without a date. Do not be that kid who was too cool for school and missed out on everything.

And more importantly, go to class. Your grades still matter so don't start slipping now. If you're going to leave a legacy, you might as well leave a good one. So be there for someone younger than you and help them find their way just like someone helped you. Promise me that if your last three years of high school haven't been the best, you'll do everything in your power to make the last one a good one because this is all you've got. 

To sum it all up, make good descions and make some bad ones, too (I swear I won't tell Mom!). Send me drafts of your personal essays and I'll start browsing the web for graduation dresses. So happy senior year sis—I'll be waiting for you on the other side.  

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by Karlyn Sykes | 8/24/2017
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