By Aimee Drew

This is it. College acceptances have been sent out; the bear has taken Casa by storm for the last time; prom is over. We are now a week from graduation and everyone has the same question on their mind: what now?
After 12 years of waking up and going to school every morning, after living at home our entire lives, after growing up together, through the awkward years of junior high to the young adults we now are, everything changes. In discussing future plans with my classmates, everyone has the same tone: the excitement and anticipation are now tinted with anxiety and a bit of fear.
For so long now, we have been waiting to get out, but now, suddenly, it’s gone by too fast. There are too many memories left to be made, too many friendships that are not ready to end, too many things still needing to be said.
I remember throughout sophomore year I was a pretty cynical, sarcastic person. I looked for things to complain about just because I could.
Now I realize that all that judgment was a front, a way to hide from what I didn’t like about myself.
If there is one lesson I have learned about life it is that criticizing others does nothing but drive you crazy. Thinking about people negatively will only make matters seem worse then they actually are. If you think too much, you’ll probably mess it up yourself.
It has taken me my whole life to like the person I have become, to know who I want to be and what I want to put my energy toward. But through all the stupid comments I have made, all the failed relationships I have had, all the embarrassing moments of my past, I have learned something.
After my sophomore year was over, I started to look at the world more clearly. I don’t know what caused the change except becoming more mature, but I have learned that a smile really does make everything better and a little positivity can go a long way.
Venturing out into the real world, our real lives begin the day Principal Scheele hands us that diploma. No one knows where any of us will end up or who any of us will become but that doesn’t matter: we have our whole lives to figure it out.
So to the class of 2011 and everyone else, I have a little bit of advice: live to your fullest potential, be kind, be young, and take every experience to heart. It only goes up from here and remember, the energy you give is the energy the universe gives back to you.