I’m sure every single high school senior that is reading this right now has spent some time in the recent past pondering and feeling nostalgic about the years of schooling, times spent with their friends, the jokes about teachers and literally the whole deal that came with the baggage of being a student. I know this because right now, I’m in that situation.
It’s an exciting time, and a sad one all the same. For the majority of us, we’ve had to sweat it out preparing for that SAT or that ACT, dreading test day when it arrived and anxiously monitoring for weeks for that website to say “Show score report”. For some of us internationals, we’ve had to give those tests of English even though we can speak the language very fluently. We’ve had to grind it out on essays and submissions, working overnight to meet those deadlines and fallen asleep in class because of that brutal all-nighter.
But we’ve always known that there is more to being a student. We are in the company of our peers, people that are going through the very same stage of life we are, and who often share the same anxieties or ambitions we do for what is to come.
As a 17-year-old, I’m half a year away from graduating from high school and moving on to university, but what always hits home is the realization that everything is so temporary. When I move on from school, I will also leave behind a great part of the environment and the circumstances that made me what I am. To know and fully realize that in some months I will no longer be associated with some of the people that I’ve spent years with, even if I did not talk to them on a regular basis, and to not be able to do anything about this gut-wrenching feeling is pretty terrifying. I’m sure at least a few of you have had this feeling, and it’s okay.
That 7th-grade crush, or that arrogant smart guy, or that one person that never spoke much. All these things and people, whether I realize it or not, profoundly altered who I am, how I see the world, and the kind of ideas I have. Stop and think for a second, of how much these people, who seem so indifferent to our existence, are truly in the same boat as the rest of us when it comes to the uncertainty of our future.
I have seen many people who hate school and go to great extents to let everyone know how much they actually hate it, from posting to Facebook or saying “I hate school” ten minutes into the day. I could never really understand that because I thoroughly enjoyed spending days in the company of my friends, but it always seemed that most others didn’t quite feel that way. I realize that some people are sick of seeing the same people every day, and they just want to pack up their whole room and move to their new dorms, but I can promise these people, next year you will miss your high school days.
It is a poignant feeling that I have so often. Even when I’m in class or at home, this idea, this notion intrigues me so much. To imagine myself thrust into a new world so suddenly is a terrible feeling. We get caught up in talking about our future so much, we sometimes forget to live in our present. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to study in a school that opens international avenues for me, and I will always respect that, despite the fact it may be far from perfect. In all honesty, which school is perfect anyway?
In my fond conversations with my friends, I have often spoken about this. What will life be like a few months from now, as we finish our final high school exam and embark on our own journey? As much as I look forward to opportunities on the horizon, I can’t help but think of how much I’m going to miss my school days and my friends.
I am fortunate to have been born in a generation that is connected to one another at the flick and tap of a mobile screen, but somewhere I realize that social media connections aren’t the same as the connections that we build through our jokes and collective struggles. So, enjoy every second of your time with your best friends. I can’t promise you won’t grow apart in the years to come, but I can promise that you will never forget each other.
It’s now the beginning of January, which means that most of us would have attended at least one annual school event for the last time in our lives. That’s when that existential dread begins to kick in.
Most of us are probably stressed out crazily with our college applications. Perhaps some have even received those acceptances into their dream schools, some maybe awaiting that enticing first letter. Lastly, some of us already know the bitter taste of rejection (me included!).
Last month, I was declined from my dream school, Carnegie Mellon University. The thing is, I’m not sure I wanted to attend Carnegie for the usual reasons a candidate generally has. I didn’t picture myself actually attending the school, walking through those arches onto the freshly mown grass, eyes widening at the sheer size and beauty of the campus. I didn’t see myself interacting with the student body, smiling and laughing and cheering. I didn’t imagine myself writing down notes, attending seminars, gallivanting to class.
It was then that I knew: I didn’t want to attend Carnegie because I wanted to attend Carnegie. I wanted to attend Carnegie because I wanted to tell everybody that I was attending Carnegie. That wasn’t the sole reason why, but it was a considerable part of it. I wanted the prestige altogether. I wanted the pats on the back from my friends, the congratulations from my teachers, the hugs, and tears from my mom. I wanted the validation. We all crave validation from others. I’m not an exception to that. But I’m glad I realized. CMU wasn’t truly my dream, and it shouldn’t have been anyway.
No, my dreams were not shattered. They were, in fact, clarified.
So, for everyone that has received a rejection from their dream school, know that this is not the end. It can only be the end if you let it. Even though this is an exciting and bittersweet moment, don’t be self-absorbed.
If your parents are anything like mine, they’re already extremely nervous and overrun with anxiety about the idea of you leaving them for four years.
“When they ask you how your day at school was, don’t just say, “It was fine.” Tell them about that test you think you failed, the disgusting lunch you ate, or about the kid you accidentally tripped in the hallway. They don’t just ask you how your day was for no reason. They want to talk to you because they realize that you probably won’t call them every day next year (and that kills them). Put the phone down at dinner and have a real conversation with them. You won’t realize how much you’ll miss them until you’re away from them and you can’t just hug mom when you need her.” – Odyssey
As a student of the IB, which is more affectionately referred to by some of my friends as “Hell on earth”, or fondly as “The worst decision of their life”, we do have a lot of pressures apart from just the academics. From IB’s TOK and CAS and a 4000-word research paper which will never have any implication in life for most people, I’m not going to make a corny statement that IB has made me a global learner, but it definitely has prepared me for the intensity of university life (or so I’m hoping).
These next four years of your life will be gone in what will seem like a blink of an eye. And then one day you will wake up and see your diploma hanging on the wall. – HuffPost
So, for all of us who are either burdened with school work, busy with college applications or just deprived of a sane lifestyle, know that you’re only in high school once. No matter how much you hate that one class or that one person in your grade, remember that very soon it’s all going to be over. Enjoy it as much as you can, with the people that matter to you and let the rest of your school life be the best of your school life. To those accepted to their first-choice universities: congratulations—you deserved it, you are amazingly talented, hard-working, incredibly unique people.
So, whoever you are, and wherever you are, I’m glad you’re out there.
As always, thanks for reading.