Four (mostly) funky and fresh years

I believe that there are two kinds of people in this world: “high school forever” and something along the lines of “ew… high school.”

These four years are such a short period of time in our lives, albeit incredibly significant. We learn how to solve differential equations, spend hours writing our junior themes, and memorize the periodic table.

We get lunch with our friends on early dismissal days, spend weeks planning for school dances, and do the awkward wave at people we know in the hallways. I guess it’s all part of the ~experience~.

When I think about how we came into high school as such innocent and unsuspecting freshmen, I want to laugh.

I remember being afraid of getting FOMO if I didn’t go to the football games; I saw them as a staple of the whole high school “experience.”

Unfortunately, I only made it to the first one before I realized that I’d rather be chilling at home than huddled in the freshman section taking pictures for Instagram as proof that I went.

And the mixer with the neon theme? Prom doesn’t even begin to compare… All in all, the freshmen campus was awesome and it was so nice to not have to worry about any of those classic horror stories involving upperclassmen. Plus, I miss being able to walk outside to all my classes.

Sophomore year it felt strange to be the youngest at school. I can very clearly picture myself carrying my Vera Bradley lunchbox (which, by the way, is not a “cool” thing to do, leave the lunchbox in your locker, Alyssa) with my head down and my long hair covering half my face as the scary seniors strut past me in their Green Team sweatshirts.

And although not scary, I’m now a senior, which seems really weird, because I could’ve sworn that it was only yesterday that I felt like a small goldfish in a giant toilet bowl just waiting to be flushed at any minute.

If I could sum up junior year in two words, it’d be “the grind.” But truth be told, it was also probably my favorite.

I think this was the year that we all thought we were hot stuff just because we were no longer at the bottom of the age hierarchy on this campus. Everyone was trying to flex how late they were staying up each night, and it was basically a competition of who could work the hardest, but we also bonded over all the stress and the chaotic nights.

Yoga pants and sweatshirts were the move on most days. The words “ACT” and “straight As” and “college” were thrown around like confetti.

Despite all the flak that junior year gets, many people who I talk to say that it was one of the most rewarding years academically.

Nevertheless, when I look back, I feel like I had the emotional intelligence of a pea, so senior year was much better in that department because, you know, growing up.

Then came first semester senior year, which I think is analogous to when someone *really* hypes up a movie and then once the movie is over you’re just left wondering… why?

With the added pressure of college apps, first semester was a million times worse than writing any junior theme.
“Senior year will be fun” they said, I thought each day with a feeling of betrayal.

Sifting through college apps, I wondered what I hoped to do with my future and what I wanted it to look like. Nothing was certain and contrary to what our new “senior” status meant, everything was terrifying.

But after college apps were over, instead of showing off how late we were staying up, seniors started to brag about how early they were going to sleep and “ugh, the senioritis.”

We pushed through finals, and then we were finally second semester seniors.

I remember the day that I finished my last final: I went home, curled up in bed, and watched the whole first season of “Sex Education” which people had been talking about for weeks.

I can’t even remember the last time I watched Netflix before that because Netflix is a dark hole, one that is too easy for a disheartened senior to fall into.

But aside from AP tests, this last month or so has been pretty great. I wore a long red dress to prom, which is something I would have been way too scared to do a year ago, and realized that it’s okay to not always do what everyone else is doing. I run outside and revel in the familiarity of Winnetka, a place I’ll be leaving soon.

And I try to spend as many moments with my friends and family as possible because whether it’s going on a quick walk to the beach or actually taking the time to get a nice dinner, these are the small moments that I’m going to remember.

I’m definitely the type of person who starts homework and studying days in advance just to get ahead. I skip hang outs with my friends in order to take care of my horse and spend my summers at the barn.

But lately I’ve been leaving it until Sunday night, which, despite sounding trivial, has been quite wonderful. The opportunity cost of taking the time to make memories with the people I love might involve putting “Hamlet” aside for a second or two, but I’m okay with that–these are the people who have made my last four years so worthwhile. As corny as it may sound, I can happily say that high school is indeed, forever.