Second semester senior year isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

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I know, I know, you’ve probably read a quadrillion of these “I have ascended to second semester senior status, now it’s time to reflect” articles, but just hang with me for three minutes (assuming the average Lexile reading measure). I promise I’ll make it worth your while.

As previous Perspectives editors of our paper have noted, second semester of senior year isn’t truly what I envisioned back in the throes of freshman year. I keep looking for the day when I will finally bask in the glory of reprieve… and I keep looking… and I’m still looking…

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I present to you a graph of my New Trier adventure if my New Trier adventure was the U.S. trade deficit (credibility of photo questionable):

… in which the y-axis is my intensity of happiness (measured in ☺︎), the x-axis is my time at New Trier, and the right edge of the graph is where I’m at right about now.

I’ll be frank: I never really understood when my dad kept telling me to sap as much joy out of high school as I could, because I would miss it dearly when it was over, he claimed.

High school isn’t quite over yet, so maybe I’m not quite in the position to assess the validity of his wistfulness, but I can tell you that starting from my sophomore year, I counted down the time remaining to second semester of senior year not in semesters, not in days, but in hours of most likely lost sleep. In any case, the number was pretty high, but my anticipation of this moment never faltered.

Where was this consistent “joy” of being a hyper-stressed, occasionally angsty high school student that my dad mourned? It sure wasn’t present in the past seven semesters. I kept telling myself that maybe it would come in that final semester, that maybe it would come if I was accepted into college.

It’s also not that I didn’t experience any electrifying moments during my time at New Trier. That first day of freshman year, all of the cross country meets where I used my GoPro to the end of its (battery) life, the life-altering friends I’ve made, classes I’ve taken, teachers I’ve met that I still praise to this day — that, I wouldn’t trade for anything you could offer me.

It’s the consistent absence of sleep, the nights spent with my face in my hands bawling from stress, the underlying current of competition in the earlier years of high school, the immense pressure to take this AP and get that A and be perfect at this while managing that — all of that, and so much more, made me feel like a grain of rice drowning in a pressure cooker. What’s depressing is that I had so many more of those moments than the memorable ones.

Becoming a second semester senior hasn’t really changed any of that. The only difference I can physically feel is the diminishing thickness of my planner as graduation comes near.

I’ve got my highs punctuating a constant stream of lows, and it’ll probably stay that way. This last semester blends in pretty seamlessly with all of the other ones when I was really hoping for it to shine.

And as far as I can tell, the most stellar aspect of my last two semesters at school is that monster of a drop my grades have suffered. (Seriously, it’s a decline severe enough to be its own elevation within Winnetka. Senioritis waits for no-one.)

Honestly, though, I’ve gotten used to having so many lows that it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. Getting a C on a test freshman year would have made my eyes pop out of my head, but now I take a single glance on my C’s in my Calculus BC class and sing to the Holy Trinity that it wasn’t a D-.

Would I repeat high school? It’s tempting to say yes, because I look back and I see a host of missed opportunities that I should’ve jumped on at the time. I look back and I see pockets of memories worth reliving.

But the same time, though, I’d have to politely decline the offer. High school is an experience I need just one time around, but I can’t say I’d give it another go with all of that sleeplessness and migraine-inducing anxiety.

Or maybe I’m speaking too soon. Who knows? I might end up wishing I was a freshman in high school again when I’m 30 and calculating my taxes incorrectly while forgetting to do my laundry for the nth time.

Because like Andy Bernard, I, too, wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.

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