Letter from a Graduate

dark-haired girl wearing sunglasses

I do not know if this will ever reach them, but I wanted to send this to the girls at Spring Ridge Academy.

I was a student, or whatever term you call it, at Spring Ridge Academy for around 15 months. I graduated back in summer 2014. I went to two other programs before then as well and was gone for 22 months and 16 days (but who’s counting right?) I am writing this because I think so many times the alumni you interact with seem like they really liked Spring Ridge Academy, and they were doing so well (or that’s how I felt about them), and I just couldn’t relate. I did not like Spring Ridge Academy. I was pissed I was there, and I was not easy to deal with. I also have had ups and downs since I have left.

What I will say is in my 4.5 years of reflection is that Spring Ridge Academy and the entirety of being sent away brought me a million times closer to my family. This is something I hadn’t experienced before. This didn’t happen completely while I was there or even immediately after, but I do owe Spring Ridge Academy a lot of credit for it. Spring Ridge Academy did not make me perfect. I have done dumb stuff, I have gone and seen bad guys, I have royally messed up since being back, but Spring Ridge Academy did give me tools to recognize that I don’t need to do that and more importantly, that I can get myself out of it and my family will help without a judgment (tools who am I lol). I am not denying that is SUCKS to be away from your life, even if it felt like life sucked at home, it is still hard. However, after sometime, I feel like I can now see the benefits.
I just want to instill some wisdom I wish I had when I was there that may make the stay more bearable.

DO NOT waste your time trying to impress the staff, or your therapist, and DEFINITELY not Jeannie. They don’t want you to impress them; they just want you to work hard. I feel like I spent a lot of time wanting to be on Jeannie’s good side or make her like me and it just backfired (does she even work there still?)Anyway, just focus on you and making yourself the happiest you can be in a not ideal situation.

Make friends. I cannot stress this enough. My two best friends ever are from Spring Ridge Academy, and I ended up living with one of them. Stuff changes while you’re gone, it’s hard to hear, but it’s true. My friendships back home were different as missed a lot of their lives, and we just were at different places of life when I moved back. My friends at SRA were my rock and got me through all the rocky parts of assimilating myself back into my home. THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO ARE GOING TO GET HOW HARD IT IS!

Do not get a boyfriend right when you graduate. Just don’t do it. I know they tell you this, and you feel like “okay shut up I haven’t seen a boy in forever” well, I am here to tell you they are still the same and still can cause a lot of problems. Stuff is hard to get used to when you go back, so it seems easy to find a boy to lean on BUT you feeling dependent on them is NOT ideal. Find friends or rebuild friendships instead.

Lastly, don’t hate your parents. I spent too much time resenting my parents for sending me away and missing out on life even after I got out. To be completely transparent, sometimes I still get a tinge of resentment when I think about things I missed. They love you. They tried, and if it feels like they didn’t try, well this is them trying. My mom is my best friend now ( I literally could not have fathomed me saying this before)and I literally go to her for everything, she honestly probably wishes I called less.

I just wanted to write from a perspective of someone who really did not like Spring Ridge Academy, someone who wasn’t a rule follower, whatever you want to call it, maybe it will speak to a different audience than another person can. I sound like I’m lying since I’m taking the time to write this, but I’m not. It gets better. You’re going to make it, you’re going to leave, it’s not forever.

Treat others with compassion; you’re all going through a crazy experience. Work hard even if you think you’re not learning anything you are.
I’ve been thinking of writing his forever. I am finishing up college and trying to get into a master’s program. I am genuinely happy in life. I made it just fine after missing half of high school even though it felt like the end of the world for a good amount of time.

Good Luck.