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Beyond High School: How to Manage Mixed Emotions in the Real World

High school teens getting ready for graduation

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Congratulations on making it to the end of the school year! Chances are you are moving up a grade or will be graduating soon. Quite likely, you are experiencing a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and sadness. Having a combination of feelings about moving on to the next chapter in school or in life is completely normal. 
Some people may feel higher levels of anxiety or depression, feel overwhelmed, and have difficulty coping and managing regular responsibilities and activities. There are several reasons why you might be feeling this way and we are here to help guide you through them.
While this list is not exhaustive, there is a good chance that you will be able to relate to one or more of the following causes of stress, a mixture of emotions, and higher levels of anxiety or depression. Each stressor is paired with an actionable step you can take to relieve some of the symptoms you are experiencing!

Uncertainty About the Future

Prep for Your Next Act

Transitioning into another grade and graduating from high school can make people feel uncertain because the future is unknown. While some people feel excited about the potential that the transition holds, some can be overwhelmed by the endless possibilities that are presented to them. 
This can be an incredible opportunity to reinvent yourself and begin building the life you want! Getting organized, both in school and at home, can be reassuring and calming, creating excitement about the future. Your to-do list doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing, it can increase productivity and clarity. 

Relationship Changes

Be Present In The Moment

Many high school students and graduates experience changes in relationships. Those who are entering new grades may make new friends and see their old friends less and those who are graduating and headed to college or into the workforce may part ways with friends, often because people move to different cities and states. 
It might be scary to move away and not bring the support and stability your parents, family, coaches, teachers, and friends have given you over the years. Know that there are many ways to stay connected and plenty of opportunities to reconnect over holiday breaks!
While it can be easy to think about the potential relationship changes, being present and enjoying the moment with your loved ones can help ease your nerves about future changes. If you feel comfortable, having conversations with friends and family about your concerns can help you feel more confident as you transition into the next stage of your life.

Lack of Structure & Guidance

Trust In Yourself

The structure and schedules you have followed for most of your life are soon disappearing, leaving you with more freedom, control, and power over your life. The need for you to be more self-reliant can make you feel vulnerable or overwhelmed and could contribute to the amount of stress and anxiety you are feeling. While you are embarking on a new journey, don’t forget all of the difficult situations and testing experiences you’ve been through. 
Just because you will be on a different schedule and may live in a new place doesn’t mean you won’t be able to handle the new challenges and responsibilities this transition will bring. Have confidence in yourself and know that you will be able to manage the obstacles that come your way!

Others’ Unrealistic Expectations

Do What Makes You Happy

There is no doubt that someone will ask you the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”. This question can be loaded with unrealistic expectations that can make you feel uncertain about your future or pressured to say and do what others expect of you. The successes from others in your life can be motivating, but also cause feelings of shame and failure if you don’t meet the expectations they have for you. 
While it’s easier said than done, do what makes you happy! This is your life and no one else is going to live it for you. At the end of the day, studying what you are interested in or working in a field that sparks joy will help you lead a fulfilling life.

We Can Help

Do you want to begin your journey to positive mental health?  A Brighter Day has partnered with BetterHelp to provide access to free mental health treatment. 
Email us at support@abrighterday.info to be connected to complementary resources or text “BRIGHTER” to 741741 for immediate mental health crisis support. 

References: https://online.uwa.edu/infographics/basic-emotions/ https://www.choosingtherapy.com/high-school-graduation-depression-anxiety/ https://admissions.usf.edu/blog/7-tips-for-dealing-with-the-anxiety-of-graduating-high-school
Text BRIGHTER to 741741 for immediate crisis support

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