Monday, February 28, 2011

High School Kid Mourns Over What Is Not Yet Lost

LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND IN LOUISIANA wrote in to Dear Abby:

I am a junior in high school and will graduate next year. I attend a private school where I have made many good friends -- teachers included -- and have created many happy memories.

I have just been hit with the realization that my time in high school is running out. Once I leave for college, I may never see or talk to my friends here again. I can't process the thought of having such great friends and mentors and losing them. I'm afraid for the future and how I will miss everything I've experienced at my school.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with all this? I can barely sleep because I feel like it's only going to get worse.

I can identify with this kid. I felt much the same way, although not to the point of losing sleep. But as a teen, I never was one of those who were just dying to get older. I realized that I was only going to be 13, 14, 15, etc. once. That the moment I was in was not going to last. That life comes to an end. Stopping to smell the roses is a good idea, while still planning for the future.

This kid actually has an advantage. A lot of classmates haven’t really stopped to consider the implications. Or they are so miserable they just can’t want to get out and get away.

Unlike when I was that age, online communications are such that you never really have to lose touch anyone who wants to keep in touch. My advice would be to spend some time with these people one-on-one or in small groups (peers, I’m talking about – not adults), and set down the groundwork for an ongoing friendship. Make the effort to keep in touch. Everyone’s busy right now with their crushes and with trying to finish school and get into the college of their choice, so an effort has to be made to keep in contact.

Keep a contact list, complete with things like birthdays and notes about someone’s family and interests. Social networking sites pretty much do this for you already.

Consider setting up a desk with nice stationary, a nice pen, envelopes, special stamps and address labels, and actually writing these people through snail mail. Or, do it electronically.

Don't be surprised, though, if you only keep in contact with a handful of people. Some people are lazy about staying in touch, or they get so wrapped up in their education and career and significant other that they don't have the time. Or, you'll find that there really wasn't much to the relationship other than your shared geography, institution, and age... and that won't be enough.

As far as the teachers and other adults, approach them when the professional relationship is ending, and let them know you admire them and appreciate what they’ve done (a gift might be a good idea) and let them know you’d like to keep in contact. Most teachers especially like it when former students drop by to offer some encouragement.

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