Standing Apart

This is another guest blog written by my nephew Harrison who graduated from high school 39 years to the day after me. I asked him to record some of his reflections on graduating from high school and getting ready for college. Today he leaves for Penn State. 

By Harrison Slater

My brother Mitchell and his son Harrison at graduation June 23, 2011.
Note the apple that Harrison is wearing from his first day of school.

First day of school (note the
apple which he is wearing
on graduation day)
It’s the night before graduation, and it really hasn’t hit me yet that I’m literally done with a huge part of my life starting tomorrow night, around 7:30.      

To make it even weirder, I’m beginning a new part just 4 days from now, when I go to Penn State to begin my college life early, for their LEAP Summer program. Most people would dread leaving their hometown so early without having the famous “summer after senior year”, but I’m ready. I’m pretty much done with Westfield for now, because 

I think I’ve had pretty much every experience I need, bad and good. I’ve switched from pretty much all the friend groups in my high school throughout the last 12 years, and now I’m close friends with about 4 kids, in a larger friend/acquaintance group of about 70. Sounds like a lot, but it’s just the kids I talk to mostly, so that’s how I would put it. 
Uncle Jeff asked me to write this to talk about what it’s like to graduate in 2011. Well I have a feeling that it’s a lot different than when he did. Obviously technology plays a part, because I can stay in touch with whoever I want, and it also makes it a lot easier to make new friends at college, because if you meet someone cool, you just say “Add my number in my phone” or “Add me on Facebook”. 

I feel bittersweet about graduating. 

Sure, I’m about to have what will hopefully be the best 4 years of my life (because to be honest, high school was not exactly what I had hoped it would have been), but regardless, I’m going to have to work a lot, and take up a lot of responsibility for myself.

Uncle Jerry has given me a bunch of good talks about how you can essentially decide what your career will be like in two ways. You can work non-stop, and break your back to get a lot of money, and live a lavish lifestyle but only at the times you are not working.

Or, you can do something you really love, but probably not make as much money, and have a very different lifestyle. I really hope I can find a happy medium between these two, and I’m fairly sure a Penn State education can lead me in that direction, which is a reason I love it there. They really have so many options of things to study, and a lot of ways to explore those, so I’m still not sure what path I’m going to take.

I want to have a job when I’m older that can provide for my family so that we can live in a suburb probably like Westfield, I can have a car that I like, a home that I like, take a few vacations once in a while, and I guess live similarly to how I grew up. I know that sounds a lot easier than it really will be, but I’m usually dedicated so I think I can figure out a way to make it happen.

I’ll end this by saying to my cousins who are still growing up and have a long time ahead of them until they graduate, is to find a couple things that you really love early on, and stick to that. I wish I had just focused on 2 or 3 sports early on, instead of trying all of them, because truthfully I was never great at any one of them, just decent or average, which lead to me not playing any sports for my high school. Also, I have a few hobbies, but nothing that sticks out.

Try to find something that is unique and that you are really passionate about, that can separate you from others, because in the world today, getting places is determined by something unique, due to the fact that if you were to go any college campus, you’d see a bunch of clones walking around; similar education, intelligence and talents.

You need to find something that sets you apart.

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