Senior year. What do people cleverly name their senior year photo albums on Facebook? The beginning of the end? Yeah, something like that.
I’m only a few months into the beginning of the end and already, it’s starting to overwhelm me. I think we get so caught up in everything – the prospect of college, never seeing people again – that we freak out and don’t take the time to fully appreciate our very last year in high school.
For most of us seniors, it’s a drastic change. If we’re not moving out of the state, then we’re at least moving out of our homes. It means saying good bye to our bathrooms, bedrooms, Saturday morning routines, and basically any lifestyle to which we were previously accommodated.
Personally, I am not wracked by this idea, because I’ve been there and done that (3 years of summer camp experience tucked under my belt, yo) and frankly, I like that idea. High school routines have forced me into a rut, and I think going away to college will help disrupt that cycle.
What saddens me is the way that my interpersonal relationships will change.
First, with teachers. These are people with whom I’ve built connections with since day one of high school. They have been giving me advice about what to do when I get to college, and all of the classes have been preparing me for what I’m going to soon go off to do. No more comforting, no more guidance, and no more teacher relationships, which are frankly, overrated.
Second, with the friends that we’ve made during our time at home. Regardless of if they are in your history class or if you met them at summer camp, these relationships are going to change. You always had history class to look forward to, and the next year of summer camp. But those times are over. Those opportunities are finite, and we may have come to take them for granted, but sometimes we treat these chances as dwindling down. Instead of trying to preserve them or create new opportunities, why not realize that these interactions are as finite as finite is going to get.
Yet, there’s some contentment in my soul. I was asking a friend about what he thought of senior year, and he said to me: closure. The love, the hate, the victories, the defeats. The pent up bitterness and grudges that you’ve held against someone are suddenly cast in a shallow light, and in the context of senior year, don’t seem to be worth holding onto anymore. It’s where the senior class literally or metaphorically joins hands and sings kumbaya, embraces the senioritis, and taunts the lower grades – together, as one unit. (“FOUR. MORE. YEARS.”)
It’s strange to think about you at graduation. To all of the relatives and loved ones attending, you will be merely a name, called out between two others. At the same time, however, you are going to be so much more than that. You are going to be the fruits of your labor, the sweat and tears that you’ve put into all of the projects and grades that you’ve received. You will be the interpersonal relationships that you have, your words will be influenced by your English discussions, and you will be a product of your culture, the films that you watch, the music that you listen to, and the books that you read.
Overall, I characterize this final year as bittersweet. Bitter because we’re taking our foot off one of the major stepping stones into our lives and leaving behind lots of people and memories that we’ve come to love, but sweet because we’re also moving on with our lives, and as we make our way onto the next step, it seems like the whole world has opened itself up to us, and in that moment, we were infinite (okay sorry, I just wanted to slip in that quote somehow).
It’s the beginning of the end, and the next chapter of your life starts on a whole other campus, where you will no longer walk the halls like you own them, whose twists and turns you are going to have to learn all over again. My friend puts it so eloquently: “Maybe, just maybe, there’s a pocket of that school with your name on it; but there will always be a pocket of you with your name on it.” Just let that quote sit there for a minute, and let your mind mull over it. You will have made some invisible yet existing influence on your school, in the same way that it has for you. You will waltz into the next chapter of your life with the knowledge and lessons (academically and socially) that you’ve acquired over your four years or so.
My advice: fall in love with single moments. They need not be major moments, but perhaps, small ones that hold significance to you and only you for some unexplainable reason. These will be the first images that flicker across your mind when someone ten years from now says “senior year,” before your mind jumps to prom, or homecoming, or graduation. These will be the emotions and sentiments that can’t be put into words, that still give you warmth when you get nostalgic in the future.
I know that this theme will pop up in other future posts, because we are nowhere done with the senior year. Expect that.
More psychedelic music for your listening pleasures: