The end of high school is truly near

In 15 calendar days, 11 school days, or after 72 more hours of class, I will be done with high school. Forever. Hooray!

It seems I?ve been doing a lot of reminiscing lately. It?s just weird to think that I?m almost a high school graduate. My friends and I have talked about it so much, but always in a future context. I can?t wrap my brain around the concept of it being us, now and real?and just a few days away.

I wrote my first column in 2006, reflecting on my freshman year. As this is the last column I?ll write while still in high school, I?ve decided to do more reflecting.

At the beginning of my freshman year, I was scared all the time. I was so unsure of myself. I constantly compared myself to everyone, especially upperclassmen. I viewed so many of them as role models, but I didn?t actually think I could ever manage to be like them.

In that first column, I concluded, ?I?ve learned that it?s important to be who you are, be honest with yourself, and trust that you?ll figure out how to be ?yourself? along the way.? I can see now, at the end of my high school career, that I DO know who I am.

After taking 32 classes, participating in four different sports and getting to know some really amazing people?some a little strange, too, but I mean that in the nicest possible way?I?ve learned so much.

Of course, I?ve learned that ?Kings Play Chess On Fridays, Generally Speaking? (a phrase to remember the biological organization of living things), that imaginary numbers actually do exist and that Daniel Kunantaev has a wonderful falsetto (specifically during accounting class when singing ?Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays? from *NSYNC?s 1998 ?Home for the Holidays? album).

But aside from all that classroom learning, I?ve experienced immeasurable amounts of personal growth. I am definitely not the same girl who walked into high school four years ago with her brand new backpack and a desire to hide from upperclassmen.

I mean, I used to avoid school dances because I couldn?t dance?but I?ve learned that no one really minds how you dance, as long as you?re enjoying the dancing. I had way more fun at prom this year than any other year because I actually danced and was having fun, not because my limbs were moving in any sort of a coordinated fashion (because, as my friends so lovingly pointed out, they definitely were not).

I also learned that friendships go in cycles and seasons. In the past four years, there were times when I felt I had more friends than I knew what to do with and others times when I wondered if I could feel any more alone.

My best advice to anyone is to stick it out. When you feel lonely, seek out people you might not know as well?maybe someone you sit next to in a class. A friendly conversation will help you feel less alone, plus it?s a really simple way to build a new friendship.

This year, I took my own advice and ended up with more friends than I?ve ever had before. I?ve noticed that the lines between ?cliques? in my class have blurred, especially this semester.

I think this might be the ?bonding? that I?ve heard previous seniors talk about. Maybe we?re all realizing that we?ve been going to school with some really cool people, but have been too caught up before in ourselves and our own routines to take notice.

Despite all my talk about wanting to ?get out and be done,? I really, really will miss high school. I might not miss having limits on my freedom or attending six and a half straight hours of classes, but I will miss my friends. My teachers. Familiarity. The comfort in knowing what comes next.

I?m going to miss the smell of high school. I?m not talking B.O or too much cologne (attention, freshmen boys), but that first-day-of-school smell. Each of the schools?elementary, middle and high school?has a distinct smell. Just walking through the halls brings back memories.

The space I?m allotted for in this column really isn?t enough to express all I?ve learned and everything I?m feeling these days. High school has had its highs and its very, very lows. I hate to quote Miley Cyrus?and some of my friends will also tease me for this?but it really is about ?The Climb.?

You?re going to make mistakes, but they?re what shape you. Every class, every activity, every friendship, serves a purpose?whether it?s one you can see right away or not. High school is about growing and changing, so don?t resist it.

Also, be nice to your parents. You need them more than you realize.