As I mentioned in my last post this week is a week of graduations for Lakeside students. We have already enjoyed their accomplishments and are very proud of each of our students in all 4 of our schools. It is truly an exciting time of year for all students, parents, their teachers and their counselors. However, some of the emotions of this time in a student’s life are somewhat confusing.
I think a good description of this rite of passage is the word transition. There is so much that students are leaving and very little that is predictable for them in the future. Their emotions can be a bit all over the place with some issues swirling about that are hard to understand as they face this major change in their life.
The nostalgia, the friendships, the memories and yes even the regrets are significant. There is also relief and excitement about the whole graduation experience. There is a great sense of accomplishment and gratification mixed with a level of uncertainty about the experiences to come. The safety of schedules that are predictable will no longer be their regimen. This is a rather drastic change since they have been told where to be and what to do each day in school for over a decade. The reality is that every part of their day has been planned for them and now that phase of predictability is over.
Change emotions are often very similar to emotions of loss and even grief. We must admit that this is a time where radical shifts in life activities are commencing and there are significant insecurities. There may be college life on the horizon for some students. For others there may be technical training for a real-world job. Some students already have a job lined up and there is some level of uncertainly as to what that world of activity may hold for them.
With all of this transition it is predictable that our high school students’ emotions may be all over the place. Difficult behaviors that we thought were in the past may surface again. They may attend parties and overindulge. They may simply withdraw or become outwardly emotional. Some of their attitudes may be in a place of fear and/or fatalism. What is important is that parents and friends can anticipate that this transition in life may have some difficult relational and emotional moments.
I think it helps to normalize this period of life. As they go through this process of significant life change it is predictable that instability will be apparent. It is a time when they need the stability of their family and friends to ride this wave with them and simply be there for the emotional rollercoasters. Being a stabilizing force in their lives as they prepare for their next growth steps into adulthood is a great way to support this transition period. As they make their adjustments and stabilize in their new life experience, there will be a great sense of growth, maturity and independence that is exactly what we want for each one of them. It is a time of emergence to celebrate their accomplishments and anticipate the next phase of discovering young adulthood and independence!