Asking for a Friend: Help! I’m sad about graduating, especially leaving my crush behind
- It’s totally normal to be nervous about starting a new chapter in life, especially when you’re leaving people behind
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I’m finishing school this year, and I’m actually really sad about it. I’ll especially miss my group of friends because we’re going to different countries, and it’ll be tricky to keep in touch with each other.
I spent all these years wishing that school would be over because I hated waking up early, but now I’d wake up early just to keep seeing my friends.
There’s also one person whom I’ve always had a bit of a crush on, but I’ve never told them about my feelings.
Do you have any advice on what I can do to be positive about saying goodbye? And what can I do about my crush?
Thanks, Wistful Thinking
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Hi Wistful Thinking,
Graduating from school is one of the biggest transitions in life. You’re leaving behind a familiar environment to face new challenges, and it’s not easy to say goodbye to close friends when you all will soon be going your separate ways. A change like this would make anyone anxious and uncertain – or as you mentioned, sad.
But these feelings also reflect how you’ve come to treasure your memories and friendships during your school years. Most of us hope when we look back, that we wouldn’t think, “I’m finally done with that place”, but instead recall the friends we’ve had and the time spent together.
I feel left out in my school club, what can I do?
In fact, the sadness you feel indicates the strength of your connections, which you can hopefully maintain even when your friends are in different parts of the world.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t experience any negative feelings, and it is important that we learn to recognise and work with these emotions.
And this isn’t even your first big goodbye – our experiences with separation start when we are children leaving our parents to start preschool. As we continue our education, we have multiple graduations, and some of us even end up moving far from home for work or university. Learning to go through separation is an inevitable part of our personal growth.
We know it's tough, but the truth is that you can't learn and grow if everything stays the same.
So, how can you handle the feelings that come with separation? Here are a few tips:
You are all moving into the next stage of life – it is not just an end, but also a new beginning. So take time to celebrate the excitement of the future with your friends. Make more memories now, while you still have time together.
And it’s okay to cry with your friends – reminisce on your good times together, and make sure they know how much you care. Often, it’s easier to process difficult feelings when you share them with someone else.
What to do if you’re stressed thinking about the future
Even after graduation, there are many ways to keep up friendships even when you’re physically distant. While you may not remain close with everyone, friendships worth keeping will adapt and grow. It is fairly common to stay connected with old schoolmates long after graduation – you may even go on to become lifelong friends.
Prepare for what’s ahead with a balanced mindset. It may feel uncomfortable to leave a familiar environment for the uncertainty that lies ahead because we don’t know who will be there to support us. As a result, we become more afraid of losing our current friends. But remember, if you were able to build strong friendships in the past, it is likely you can do the same in the future.
You made friends before, and you'll be able to do it again.
In addition, familiarise yourself with where you are going. If it’s a new school or city, find some groups that organise activities you enjoy, as this could be a way to make new friends. This will allow you to have more peace of mind when entering your new environment.
You also mentioned that you have a crush on someone, but haven’t ever talked with them about it. It sounds as if this situation may be making it even more difficult for you to come to terms with your graduation.
Are you thinking about telling this person about your feelings before you part ways? Doing so takes quite a bit of courage, but it may help you to avoid leaving any regrets behind.
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If you intend to tell them, be genuine about your feelings, and remain respectful regardless of the reaction you get. Even if the feelings are not mutual, you were vulnerable and brave, and hopefully this will help you feel more self-assured as you move on.
On the other hand, you may feel it is more appropriate to keep this crush to yourself and avoid potentially changing a friendship. In the end, it’s your choice, and there is no definite right or wrong answer.
Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be set for the next stage in your life.
Hope that helps, Friend of a Friend
This question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under their “Shall We Talk” initiative, jointly organised with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.
This column is here to answer all your difficult or embarrassing questions about being a teenager. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to overcome difficult situations at home, at school, in your social lives, or even in the animal kingdom, our “Friend of a Friend” is an expert to help provide answers for you!