As the year draws to a close and graduation creeps closer and closer for the class of 2019, the familiar feeling of sadness has returned. Every year, so many high school students are forced to say goodbye to their senior friends. This usually seems to hit the hardest for the students involved in groups or sports that have a variety of age groups. This is because these outlets allow students of different ages to create a bond together.

Yet, when the year ends, students are forced to prepare themselves to go through another year without their closest friends.

I remember watching my best friend graduate last year and feeling so overwhelmed. From working on the newspaper staff together to updating each other on how our classes were going, our school days were always intertwined. However, the reality didn’t really hit until the school year rolled back around and the newspaper room just felt empty.

Unfortunately, this feeling is simply something that we have to get used to. It seems to hit hardest for the people who have not yet experienced watching their friends begin a new chapter in their lives, but this process is unavoidable.

Although it may not seem like it at first, everything becomes easier with time. Whether it may be a new school year, beginning college, or moving to a new city, every fresh start comes with new people and new opportunities. That does not go to say that the previous friendships are lost, but doors are open to even new friendships.

This inevitable process also goes to show the reality of many high school friendships. Many people seem to realize that they were only friends with some of their peers because they saw them five days a week. Sometimes, the graduation phase allows people to see that they have different aspirations and lifestyles than those who they went to school with. Many times, these bonds seem to fade out slowly over the course of the next year or so.

However, that is not always the case. Having friends begin a new phase of life does not necessarily imply that they will leave you behind. In fact, many people’s friendships grow even stronger without the element of school in the way. A good amount of my friends are already graduated and while I am still in school, our friendships have remained strong.

Eventually, most friends become caught up in their own lives, newfound drama, and an increasing amount of school or work. Yet, when effort is put in, there is always a chance for friendships to continue even when both people are at different places in life. Sooner or later, the sadness will slowly fade away and be replaced by a feeling of pride or gratefulness.

One of the most satisfying emotions is knowing that the people who you care about are able to conquer the next step of their life. In addition, you know that the bond is real when you both put in an equal amount of effort to remain in each other’s lives.

In my opinion, meeting someone who you instantly have a connection with is one of the best feelings possible. Knowing that they are bound to graduate in just a month is hard to process, but I try my best to push those thoughts away and focus on the time that I have now.

Now more than ever, I am experiencing this feeling. Believe it or not, these seniors miss the underclassmen just as much as we miss them.

Last week, I was able to watch the seniors perform one last time for show choir. The amount of emotion in the auditorium was through the roof. It was very apparent how much it meant to them to be on stage one last time before graduation. By the end of the night, I had watched people cry, laugh, and appreciate the memories that they had made.

This time of year is a big change for most people, especially for us in high school. Watching the people in your life start a new beginning is without a doubt one of the most bittersweet moments that there is. However, watching this gives a newfound appreciation for living in the moment. Life is too short to not take advantage of the moments it gives you. Soon enough, the ones who had to watch their friends leave will be put into the same position.

After all, high school and college are only small portions of life. Leaving what is known behind and setting off on a new adventure will happen more times than expected. The cycle of growing up is continuous and ceases to stop for anyone. Life holds many “graduation” phases and they will never be easy, but it is certain that the outcome is worth going through them.

Sierra Voglewede is a junior at Grand Island Senior High School.

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