Very different. Every school year there has always been a plan in place for the next year already in place. My friends and I would already have discussed the classes we wanted to try to take and confirmed that, yes, we would in fact be eating lunch at the same tables that we had occupied since sophomore year. And most importantly, I would be able to sleep soundly knowing that I would still be sleeping in my own bed in my own house with my own family a year from now.
Every year since I became aware of how important summer break was, I always took solace in knowing that I would have some time to unwind before I met a set of new kids and new teachers and invariably new challenges. And I would also be able to enjoy it because I knew another summer was only about 180 school days away, with a few various weekends and days off mixed in.
But now I’m a senior.
And now I don’t know what my next summer will be like. I don’t know if it will be spent working and cramming in time with family and friends every spare minute I have. I don’t know if I will be interning and waiting to hear back from the college that wait-listed me. I don’t know where I will be or what I will be doing.
So how does it feel to be a senior? It is a little terrifying. It is full of unknowns.
But it is also full of freedoms.
Three years of hard work have finally culminated and now I get to leave school at lunch, but of course I stay and eat with my friends. No more awkwardly getting out-of-the-way of older kids that wouldn’t budge in the hallways. Instead I can walk casually around campus, not having to worry about anything except tripping up the stairs, which four years of training hasn’t yet remedied.
A year with seven classes and a summer of Spanish 3 have allowed me to park in the student lot and leave before the crowd, the best of both worlds. No more dealing with Burbank and Valley Circle traffic. No more tired after-school promises that the alarm will wake me up by 6 a.m. being broken, promises that left me missing dinner and ended with me waking up at 2 a.m. Now I can confidently say that I will be awake during SSR and not taking a much-needed recovery nap.
Some of the freedoms haven’t happened yet, but are still in the planning stages. I’m still filling out recommendation letter packets and drafting college application essays. I still am worrying about signing up for that last SAT to try to salvage the chances of going to one of a few dream schools. And I still I am worrying about grades, even if they’re technically not as important now.
The final year of high school, the one always marketed as the “best year of your life” by countless movies, books and nostalgic adults. Two weeks in, nothing particularly cinematic has happened. I haven’t taken a day off and I haven’t been to a nationally covered school dance. I have caught up with friends I didn’t seem to see enough over summer and I have seen my freshman brother and his friends everyday, which makes me realize I’m not as young as I used to be.
Overall, despite the lofty expectations, the final year of high school hasn’t been much different from any other, and that’s just fine by me.