It’s really quite surreal. Over three and a half years of my high school experience has passed, with the remaining month and a half soon approaching. From every awful haircut, tacky clothing style, and experimental choice of footwear, it has been an astounding maturation process. My freshman self would likely be terrified of my senior self. After all, he’d have to look about half a foot higher. At first a timid, lanky kid with no direction, I’m now an outspoken, slightly less lanky adult [Yes, adult… can you believe it, Mom?]. With all of this change came an uncountable series of moments that helped shape me into who I am right now. And if I could tell my younger self, or anyone even a day younger than me, it would be to cherish the moments. They can be so joyous, yet gone within an instant. The fleeting nature of the moments that make us the happiest is the unfair trait of memory. Which is why it’s imperative, absolutely crucial, to close your eyes and soak our surroundings and remember them; because they’re over within seconds, and it’s up to us to engrave them in our heads.
Maybe I’m too sentimental. When I graduate on June 18 from Mira Costa High, I will literally be noting to myself, “This is the last time I sit in AP Statistics.” Maybe that’s too much, but I’ve learned to make the most of my situations, no matter how trivial they seem to be. I remember failing my first three AP European History exams. I remember the grueling nights/mornings of studying, with empty coffee mugs across my desk amid textbooks, study guides, and a likely unhealthy 3 a.m. snack. I remember the days in my favorite class, Psychology, and the nights I spent writing 20-page papers. I remember seeing the rare and highly coveted A I earned in the class. I remember the basketball games, screaming from the stands and shouting anything that came to mind to the opposing bleachers across the gym. I remember my freshman self talking to a friend about an infamous senior in the hallway – I also remember when said senior stopped in the middle of said hallway, turned, and glared at me menacingly. I remember receiving my first college acceptance. I remember receiving my first college rejection. I remember sitting at my desk with a dozen college brochures in front of me, overwhelmed and trying to figure out which is the best for me.
I still haven’t decided. I have until May 1. You best believe I’m counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until I need to submit my enrollment. Five days, one hour, twenty-two minutes, and thirty-two seconds from this very moment I’m typing. Scary, huh? Believe it or not, I’m cherishing this process as well. No matter how agonizing, doubt-filled, and stress-inducing it may be, I’m cherishing the college decision process. Why? Because when it’s all over, and I’m lounging in the middle of a quad in six months, I’ll laugh and wonder what I was so worried about. But that’s in six months; right now, I have a list of pros and cons on my dresser, packets of information about my two final choices, and a sweatshirt from each school. Would I look better in Syracuse orange or Colgate maroon? It’s a trick question: no one will be able to see what I’m wearing through the barrage of snow falling from the upstate New York sky. I digress, and waste time. I have six less minutes to decide now. C’est la vie.
You don’t have to be a high schooler to take a message away from this. You could be a middle school kid. Maybe an elementary school kid; from third grade down, if you’re reading this coherently, begin looking at the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings and highlight the first ten. Please, those who are able to, take from this. When you’re cramming for a test, step back and breathe. Remember it’s going to be OK, and remember the stress pounding in your head. When you’re out with your friends and everyone is laughing, having a good time, step back and breathe. Remember why everyone is cracking up, and how content you feel in that moment. When you walk across the stage to receive your diploma from your principal, step back and breathe. Remember the intense feeling of overwhelming joy and sense of immense accomplishment. Cherish the moments, everyone. And flip through them like a book when you’re old, and maybe wise.