Columnist reflects on the reality of being a senior.
BY IRIS MARK ’23
There I was, band uniform on, clarinet tucked under my left arm, smiling from where my poster hangs on the fence.
It seemed so wrong.
I know I’m not alone when I say senior year has come fast. But it makes sense, in a way; our freshman year was cut short by the pandemic, sophomore year was just weird and junior year was one foot in the “normal”, one foot still lingering in COVID-era madness. By the time senior year came about, we’d only had one accumulative year of high school, and come May, it’s done. We’re gone.
Am I excited about this? Maybe. Am I saddened perhaps, by the loss of what some recall in fondness “the good ‘ole days,” saturated in a golden syrup-like nostalgia?
Not really, I can’t wait to leave.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t feel apprehensive.
Part of the reason it feels wrong to be a senior is the fact that I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel put together and polished enough to present myself to the world. K-12 seemed like one of those long desert roads, stretching into oblivion under a dry and predictable sky. Now the path of structured, government-mandated education has run out, and I don’t think I’ve learned how to function without training wheels.
Even though college still has some form of a safety net compared to adult life, I will still be required to make decisions for myself. I’m especially concerned about the in-between, everyday decisions. When should I do my laundry, what should I plan for meals this week, when will I have time to go to the post office, choices that I’ve never had to make before, that I’ve never had to practice doing for myself. Heaven forbid I have to make my own appointments and talk to someone over the phone. This independence and freedom, so sought after through my childhood, is about to be handed to me, tied with a ribbon, and served on a platter of adulting. How can I trust my own discernment enough to make the right choices?
High school is one of many drafts of a piece that might never be finished. I don’t like the cliche about “stepping into the real world” because high school, as superficial as it may seem, is still real life. We’re still learning, albeit in a sheltered environment, but this learning isn’t any different from the learning we should be doing our whole lives. We should always strive to think critically-the fate of society depends on it-and to remain childlike in curiosity.
Ready or not, the class of ‘23 is going to go our separate ways. I won’t start spewing cheesy lines about always remembering my classmates, or cherishing these “carefree days.” Honestly, I think the only thing the “gold and black” will bring me back to is the current state of our declining bee population.
I realize now that you don’t have to be ready, or polished, or put together or refined enough in the fires of public education in order to go out into the world and make things happen. Former senior president Nathan Varda put it best last year when he called upon his classmates to not take the side of apathy, but to believe that change can be made by young people. I’ll only add one more thing to that: positive change is not guaranteed and does not come to those who do not actively pursue it.