High School Ends, Life Moves Forward

Colleen O'Brien, Lifestyle Editor

Nothing I observed or heard as an underclassman could have prepared me for what senior year had in store.

All the college visits, applications, senioritis, and life-changing decisions forced into a single month.

It’s an emotional roller coaster ride to say the least. I’m forced to sit down and think about everything that I’ve done in my life so far, who I am, and what I want out of life.

I have to consider not only what subjects I want to study, but who I want to be for the next 4 years and where I will fit in best. That’s not to mention the nagging fear of moving out, shedding childhood, and growing up.

I’m left feeling lost and completely inadequate. There’s no better blow to my confidence than feeling like I don’t even know myself. After all, if I knew more about who I am and what I want, wouldn’t this be an easy transition?

I don’t know.

But I do know that I never thought it was possible to have so many conflicting feelings running through me at the same time: Excited to get out of the Lamorinda bubble I’ve lived in my entire life; Grieved at the thought of leaving my family and friends; Terrified of leaving home, because I feel like I’m still just a kid.

And then there are all the worries, some more rational than others, that come with beginning a new life in a new place. What if I get lost? What will the other kids be like? What will the food, weather, and dorms be like? And, of course: What if I don’t fit in and no one likes me?

One thing’s for sure though: I will never be in high school again. Ever. Senior year is full of “lasts”: the last time I will attend a Campo football game as a student, the last time I’ll ever go to ball, the last time I’ll ever see most of my high school peers again (for better or for worse).

Even scarier though, are all the “firsts” that loom ahead. Ready or not, here comes college! And with it, questions of majors and minors and roommates and parties and academics and homesickness and decorating my dorm and time management and… the list is infinite.

After my parents drive away, I’ll be left flailing.

That’s not at all to say that I’m doomed to crash and burn my freshman year.

I feel decidedly confident that college will be a wonderful experience filled with so much more positive than negative. The school that I’ve just committed to, Hamilton College (for those of you who haven’t heard of it: it’s okay, I hadn’t either!) is an absolutely perfect match. I walked onto campus and knew I was home. The people and staff were exceedingly warm and welcoming, the campus was gorgeous, and everywhere I turned, people were smiling, even through the biting cold.

Knowing where I’m going, and knowing that where I’m going is where I’m meant to be, has most definitely helped me picture myself away from home, but it has also made everything feel that much more real.

There’s no avoiding it any more. No pushing it to the back of my mind, to be examined at a later date. I’m graduating in less than 2 months. I’m leaving home in 4. I won’t be living at my house. I won’t be seeing my family everyday. I won’t see my friends at school. I’m leaving my swim team, church and job.

Life is moving forward.

I’m one of the most nostalgic people I know, and I don’t deal well with change. When we took out the carpet from the living room, I cut off a piece and saved it. It’s still sitting in my closet, almost 10 years later.

I hold onto this quote by Gail Sheehy: “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

I know next year will hold challenges aplenty, but it will also hold new friendships and opportunities that can’t be found in high school.

I’m looking forward to it.