By: Uma Attreya
There’s so much I want to write and say. But when it comes down to it, all I can think about is how this is so weird. Just yesterday I was meeting with a peer leader group. Just yesterday I was intimidated by how big the now familiar high school is. Just yesterday I wasn’t a senior.
Freshman year went by relatively normally. I joined clubs, newspaper clearly being one of them. I made friends, kept my old ones thinking we’d all be best friends forever. I kept swiping through Instagram with all my free time, swiping time away.
Sophomore year was partially normal. Honors classes started being challenging, and the grade started to separate based on the classes we chose. We still stayed together in sports and clubs, but I finally didn’t see everyone from my elementary school every day in the hallways; I only saw people in my classes or my route to class. Then a tiny pandemic hit. Two weeks of off school made us laugh. We thought we’d be back in no time and welcomed the break, which was a little after midterms. As cases went up, clubs and sports went down. We all kept swiping on Tiktok for entertainment, unable to truly be together.
Junior year was the least normal yet. I was a remote student, because theoretically, who wouldn’t love working in their pajamas?! Me, it turns out. As hard as I worked, the effort it took to motivate my self grew like the pile of papers by my desk, which were normally organized into binders in my locker. I didn’t get to talk to my friends at lunch, didn’t get to ask people in the other class what we did in class earlier, and I didn’t get to wait for the bell to ring (I just waited for my computer to crash..). I kept swiping past all my responsibilities since I could stay up late to do my work anyways.
Senior year. The point of this article. Senior year was as close to normal. After the mask mandate lifted, I saw how much we changed. I had known some of these people since I was 4 or 5, and now I quite literally look up to them, with everyone having shot up over quarantine. As we learned in school we learned about ourselves, and this year that was evident from the way we dressed to who we were friends with. College application time came around, and every day we’d ask each other about it. It was probably the most unifying experience besides the pandemic, if I’m being honest. Hearing about where we were all applying, what we wrote about, and when we heard back just showed me the literal timeline we were on. It doesn’t seem real. Maybe the pandemic contributes to that feeling. It is a mixture of things, the nostalgia. The nostalgia is for my youth, for being able to make mistakes and learn from them without too many repercussions, like being late or losing some papers. The nostalgia is that safety net that I knew the people I was with, knew how I felt about them, and knew how everyone acted. The nostalgia is for the cafeteria cookies, the bell, the digital clocks, the smart boards and projectors, the breezeway (with more collisions than the parking lot), and just for the trite high school experience. No, it wasn’t like High School Musical. But looking back now, yeah, it went by like a good movie.
I’d like to think I can come back and visit, because I’m excited to see what I left behind. I’m excited to see The Caldron take on Columbia University, and I’m excited to see if Math Club continues to enjoy the competitions. I’m excited to see the Research in Molecular Biology’s class continue to be published on NCBI; maybe there will be a fun lab table like mine that plays ice hockey with the dry ice (with gloves and glasses on of course). I’m excited to see FBLA, which I like to call my first child besides my car, thrive with more members, maybe some state officers and national title holders.
I’m truly excited for the next chapter of my life. I can say with certainty I will be a freshman figuring things out once again, my classes, my friends, myself, and of course, my sleep schedule. But I’m ready. I’ll miss the safety net, but I’ll have a place to come back to and the people are only a couple taps away. I’m going to miss the nostalgia of being a kid, but after all, being a kid is also a feeling, and there’s different ways to incorporate that no matter how old you are.
When it’s time to reflect on high school, my senior year, a lot comes to mind but nothing really sticks. High school was a kaleidoscope, with different people and times and emotions. Everything came and went, and everything left its mark. I’m stoked to never deal with lunch line, hallway, or parking lot traffic. I’m just going to adjust to describing someone as “my friend from high school” since really, I’ve got a pure, clean slate and a schedule not dictated by a blaring bell at the odd time of 2:57.