Dealing with Perks Syndrome and saying goodbye to graduating senior friends

Being much more mature than my freshman class makes it extremely difficult to find friends my own age. I’ve searched high and low for that other eighteen-year-old trapped inside of a fourteen-year-old’s body. Unfortunately, that cannot be found at my school. When that happens, the only people you can turn to are the upperclassmen.

More specifically — seniors.

You know the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Well, Charlie, the main character, is also a freshman with no friends his own age. He decides to befriend some seniors and it all goes downhill from there. This is how The Prospect coined the term Perks Syndrome aka I’m Freaking Out Because My Friends Are Graduating! I have found that specific article helpful considering there are millions upon millions of papers telling you how to deal with your own graduation, but not nearly enough on how to deal with losing a friend to that horrifying thing called The Future.

As someone who knows what it’s like to have a group of senior besties finish up their last year of high school (and prepare to leave you behind when they do), I’ve thought a lot about how to handle the feels that are overwhelming you at every turn. Here’s my best advice (even if I may be a hypocrite and have trouble following it sometimes).

#1: Recognize that it’s alright to be upset…

It is totally cool for you to cry tears of sadness on Graduation Day, or to cling onto your senior friends like a koala bear the last two months of school.

#2: …but don’t ruin their year!

Don’t make it all about you! Try to be happy for them and let them talk to you about their college plans and life after high school. And whatever you do, don’t sob so much on Senior Night that they have to take you out to McDonald’s to get a shake to cheer you up. Trust me, it haunts you the rest of your life.

#3: Don’t constantly bring up the fact that they are graduating.

They’re definitely a lot more scared then you are for the end of the year with its big, scary step into the unknown world. Don’t take every opportunity to remind them, “Well, you’ll be graduating soon.” Trust me, they are scared to death to leave. They just don’t like showing it.

#4: Do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, try to push them away.

This is so (so, so, so, so) important. Don’t try to push them away so it will hurt less. I’ve tried, it really doesn’t work. It isn’t their fault that they’ve reached the end of high school.

#5: Don’t bag on yourself because you’re the only freshman/underclassman!

So what if you’re the only freshman in the friend group? That makes you even more special! Be sure that when they ask you to come out and hang that you don’t turn them down just because you think that you’re not good enough to be included. You are.

#6: Do not automatically assume they’ll drop off the face of the Earth after graduation.

This is the most important advice I could give anybody. My fear of this alone is usually what makes my senior friends upset with me. It’s like I think that they’re stuck up or something, when that’s not the case. Try to have faith in them to come back and visit when they can and to keep in touch. They won’t just completely forget about you. Something made them want to be friends with you in the first place, so hang onto that!

#7: Enjoy the time that you have with them.

Don’t be me and literally bring down the mood anytime that you’re with them. Have fun and make memories together! The fact that they’ll be gone by the end of the school year should push you to make plans and have crazy adventures.

All in all, I just think that you should make the most of what time you have left with them before everything will change. In the words of Stephen Chbosky, “Things change and friends leave and life doesn’t stop for anybody.”

Shelby Tyler is a full-time overreacting teen, along with a part-time roller coaster enthusiast. She’s 15, and she really hates seniors. You can find her on her Tumblr or her Twitter, but fair warning, she’s barely on.

(Image via Popcorn Addiction.)