To the Wistful One,

At times, it can be easy to wonder what our lives would be like had things gone differently. What our existence today would look like had we acted differently yesterday.

For you, today is college and yesterday was high school and perhaps you are longing for a high school experience you never had. Now, the specifics of this longing are varied, as different people long for different things, but, for me, this longing was, and is sometimes still, a very real feeling, centered around several factors.

The first is not having a traditional high school experience. After my freshman year, I made the decision to become a homeschooler who took a few high school classes, but mostly dual-enrolled. Now, this was a choice I made because I believed, and still believe, it was the best decision for me, but it also meant I gave up a lot of my childhood dreams of what high school looks like. I didn’t have a group of friends I went through high school and graduated with. I didn’t get to take advantage of any senior perks or have an actual high school graduation.

There are days where I kind-of regret this and wonder if I made the wrong decision back then.

Now, because I chose a non-traditional high school experience, I also lack the classic high school stories. You know what they are: that crazy party, the epic senior trip, the numerous traditional dances, the awkward/magical first date with your high school sweetheart, etc. There are days when not having these stories really bothers me, as it feels like one more way I don’t fit in. It feels like maybe I missed out on something special and important, some right-of passage that I should have a story for, but never will.

Despite all these questions surrounding my occasional longing for the high school experience I never had, on the other side of that longing, I don’t think I would change anything. This is because the decisions I made then, carried me to where I am now, which is a place I tend to enjoy.

It is a place I belong, because I belong to myself and not anyone or anything else. Furthermore, the stories and experiences I do have provide me with a unique perspective/story, and, while I may have lacked a high school class, I am a part of an entirely different group of people who also come from non-traditional high school backgrounds, which is an ever-growing group in my life and around the world.

I recognize that for some people, the above logic doesn’t apply, or it just doesn’t work. So, to you I offer the following advice: Don’t do anything hasty when you are longing to experience something. As someone who has made a few impulsive decisions when I was longing for an experience, I would advise you to wait until you are in a less-wistful mood to make any major decisions, and, in whatever decision you make, be safe. Also, spend time with yourself, figure out who you are and what you really want out of life. Rather than longing for/dwelling on what you wish you had done, plan out what you will/want to do and investigate the kind of person you want to be/are.

It is only then that you can turn your longing for the past into your plans for the present and your dreams for the future.

Sincerely,

Sara

July 25, 2018