Reflections on My Final Year of High School
June 8, 2022
“Hey, you’re about to graduate from high school!” “How do you feel?” Everyone asks me these days when I tell them I’m a senior on the verge of graduating. I’d generally respond enthusiastically with the classic go-to “I’m excited for the new path ahead in my life” or the classic one reiterated by numerous seniors over the years, “I’ve been waiting for this moment.” And, while I agree that these assertions are all true to some level, when I consider how far I’ve gone, in contrast to the raw personal experiences I’ve had along the way, it feels overly broad and a little 2D for my liking.
Growing up, I’m sure we’ve all heard grownups say, “High school was the finest years of my life!” As a result, as a bright-eyed, inquisitive child, I was mystified by the ever-exceeding world of high school. I believe when the time came, I had naturally anticipated to have a good time (I blame a series of fairy-tale Disney movies for one, and unfortunately found that high school was not all about expressing sentiments via lavish song and dance) when I started freshman year. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong…… Let’s just say that I was shocked to discover that we weren’t all huddled up screaming “We are all in this together” at the top of our voices, accompanied by beautiful harmonizing vocals and flawlessly synchronized dance moves to complement.
I believe I wasn’t aware at the time that the same adults who would claim high school was the finest years of their life had been able to physically and psychologically be okay enough to make it the best years of their lives. In my situation, despite the tornado that was thrown at me in my teen years, it didn’t take long for me to realize that everyone has their own unique life experiences that shape who they are. It was at the end that I realized that no two people’s life experiences are the same, and that mine was unquestionably unique to me.
Furthermore, this is when I realized that graduating from high school is a huge accomplishment for some and basically nothing for others. That’s just the way life is, I’ve come to realize. I’ve noted that this most likely applies to many important life milestones such as education, job, marriage, and so on. For some, they are an obligation, while for others, they are never anticipated.
To be entirely honest, I’m ashamed to admit that, especially at the start of the school year, I was frequently hopelessly confused most of the time. Walking through the same corridors, attending classes, and hanging out with my friends during my senior year seemed to be strangely familiar… except for the fact that I had about a hundred post-high school things to worry about. Despite the fact that it was my senior year of high school, it didn’t feel particularly final at times.
I’d like to assume it was due to the increased effort I was given in order to graduate in comparison to previous years. But it wasn’t until I started looking deeper within myself that I realized it could’ve just been the fact that I hadn’t been seeing reality for what it was. That this would be the year I would put on my cap and gown, stroll confidently across the stage, and accept my carefully presented diploma as I saw my family joyfully waving back at me from across the room with a loving smile.
Isn’t it rather amusing? How you seem to finally get what you’ve always desired, but it doesn’t seem to register in your head. It feels odd, almost like a dream or, dare I say, a nightmare. Of course, I’ve always known that this day will come but the days that used to seem so far away; now, it’s all becoming a bit too close.
I believe the reason is because I’ve longed to reach this point in time for as long as I can remember. Now that I’m here, everyone around me is telling me that high school is finally coming to an end. My hunch is that it’s because I never saw myself “done” with high school, let alone moving on to the next phase. It’s possible that I’ve spent my entire life pushing towards this massive door pushed up by everyone around me, to what was known as the gateway to a new chapter in life. I spent years preparing myself, taking deep breaths to stumble as quickly as I could toward it. And, sadly, I cannot lie. My breathing was often disordered and harsh at the numerous times that I looked for anything I could find to sustain me. And as soon as I knew it, the door that once appeared light-years away, unaware, seemed to grow closer and closer to me as soon as I even realized it.
Listen closely when I say this because this is the bit that puzzles me. When I finally got to that point of getting to the door I’ve been striving for so long, all I remember was that at that very moment, all I could do was to pace back and forth but seemingly could never come close to its big presence it seemed to have been alluding. I figured that it was something I was subconsciously afraid of, knowing and anticipating that this moment was no longer one that I could avoid. Despite the heaviness of my breath and awfully loud thumping of my beating heart that seemed to have been going about a million kilometers per hour, I would eventually muster up the courage to confront the massive door in front of me. As I awkwardly stretched out my arm to hold the knob in every way conceivable, it would eventually snap open to what could’ve been the last thing I would’ve expected……
Complete emptiness. I was met with a sea of emptiness….. There I was, standing on a beach, tiny grains of sand underneath my feet and between my calloused toes. The warm salty breeze tousled into my unkempt hair, while the sky was midnight black with stars that seemed to stare directly down into my very soul. Silent and vigilant, I steadily realized that I had been an observer, becoming aware who I had been and always would be. Rather, it looked like the universe had appeared to have presented to me a mirror that clearly and vividly reflected every element of my past anguish that has resulted in the same growth within me. This would be what helps me to remind myself of the genuine essence of existence… to comprehend the truth of my soul.
Look, ever since I was a freshman, I’ve been the one who couldn’t wait to graduate and enter the “real world.” As a senior, I know how foolish I was to believe that everything would be simple for me. By the time I complete this, there will be around three weeks till graduation, yet in my mind, it still feels like we have all the time in the world. I’m sure it’ll come to me on the last day of school, or even on the day of my graduation, but all I know is that I’m living for the now. One day it’ll find me. I’m sure of it.