What I Learned As a High School Senior
As a high school graduate, I am suddenly reflecting on all of the lessons high school has taught me. Very few of them are academic in nature, but these discoveries are much more important than my GPA or my SAT score. They are discoveries about myself, the people around me, life in general.
Freshman year taught me that sometimes, your crush on the junior drummer boy will not be reciprocated. And it will be okay. It also taught me that it’s easy for former friends to put on a charade that the two of you can still be civil. They will call you disgusting in your absence. It will be okay. Freshman year taught me that good English teachers will always be your saving grace at the end of the year.
Freshman year taught me that I loved Shakespeare after all. It taught me that I was capable of so much more than I thought, and it taught me that a trip out of the country could not come at a better time than when you are fifteen and afraid. You will come back a little older, but very much bolder.
Sophomore year taught me that sometimes, friends will leave. And it’s okay, because you will eventually learn to live without them. It taught me that no boy is worth waiting six months for, especially when they have completely changed within that span of time. It taught me that writing an essay that gets you the highest grade in the class feels better than any boy’s gaze ever will.
Sophomore year taught me to take pride in myself and my talents, not in the way I dressed and the way I appeared to others. It taught me that even when I sheared off my hair, my tenacity is what shone through. It taught me to always stand up for what I believe in, even when it causes the end of a friendship. Because, months later, that friend will apologize, and you will have changed someone’s opinion on something you consider important.
Most importantly, sophomore year taught me not to fear upperclassmen. And I am still thankful for every single friend I made that graduated that year. They all changed me in an indescribable way.
Junior year taught me that it’s okay to cry in school, when you’re in your twelve-person AP Chemistry class surrounded by people you trust. It’s not just okay, but encouraged, especially when there are eleven people there to comfort you without breathing a word outside of the classroom’s walls. Junior year marked my first terrible English teacher, and taught me that sometimes it is okay to be wrong.
Junior year taught me that when you stop looking for love, it will find you. It taught me that sometimes, middle school crushes can make a vicious comeback. And sometimes, those crushes will work out. Junior year taught me that the most stressful year of high school can also be one of the most fun. It taught me that the college stress is real.
Senior year taught me that the college stress will, eventually, be rewarded. Even when it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It taught me that if you want something, if you work hard for it, everything will fall into place. It taught me that enduring countless remarks of how expensive private colleges are will be worth it when you can tell those people about your (relatively hefty) dean’s scholarship.
Senior year taught me to be thankful for those who have stayed through all four years and to make a true effort to stay in contact with those people. It taught me that friends who stay through your heartbreak and the resulting silence you put them through are the friends you truly need.
Most importantly, high school taught me that things that seem endlessly important when you are a teenage girl are fleeting, even when it seems like they may never end.
Because once that diploma is in your hand and your cap is in the air, the feeling of freedom is one so expansive that it is suffocating, but nothing so far has been better than knowing I have finally made it.