Live, Learn for Yourself

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

Thank goodness I am approaching my last days of high school. All my APs and most of my finals were over weeks ago, and I’ve been able to spend my last days at school enjoying myself, instead of panicking about some upcoming test. All the hard work and stress has finally paid off.

Yet I still remember the tough times, and all the lessons I’ve learned. I remember walking onto campus as a freshman, still relatively tall, but feeling smaller as I walked through a hallway surrounded by kids who looked like they could have been in college when compared with the tiny middle schoolers to whom I had been accustomed. Furthermore, as a new student who had only moved to Moraga that summer, nothing was familiar. There were tons of clubs to join and sports to play and classes to take. And with all those choices, I was bound to make a few mistakes.

But I learned from those mistakes. And it would be unjust to leave high school with all this information, so I am passing it on to younger generations.

Good luck, young padawons.

1. Take a deep breath. It’s just high school. And, yes, you can argue that your grades here will determine where you get into college, what job you get, or your salary. But in reality, it will only be a piece of the puzzle. There are many paths to “success.” Don’t think that if you take the road less traveled, you will end up any worse.  Don’t get caught up in the academic hysteria.

2.  Make an effort in class, not for the grade, but because you respect your teachers and yourself. Teachers put a lot of hard work and time into grading all your papers and tests, and it inconveniences them when you don’t turn in your work on time and miss class (I’d like to apologize right now for senioritis). When you take a class, even a required one, you signed up for it , and you owe it to yourself to do the work and take responsibility. We have the privilege of going to a fantastic, albeit challenging, school, and we need to better appreciate it.

3. Everyone messes up, and most people may wish they had done something differently.  Relax. You’re going to mess up. More than once, in fact. But you shouldn’t let that ruin the rest of your time in high school. Acknowledge that it happened, and it sucked.  Process it.  Learn from it. Then, let it go. College (or whatever you’re doing post-grad) is a fresh start, and, as long as you take advantage of the opportunities you’re offered out there, you’ll be fine.

4. Don’t get caught up in the college craze. At Campolindo, everyone seems to own at least one college sweatshirt, and yes, most students will attend college after graduation. According to a College and Career Center survey, 97% of the 2013 class attended college after graduation.  Don’t let it get to you. There will always be those intense kids whose focus is getting into a “trophy” school, who study super hard, take the most difficult classes, and have an outstanding resume. And that’s great for them, but it might not be for you. Focus on what you want, not what you think other people want for you. Not big on volunteering with the local youth group? Then don’t. Would rather take an interesting elective than a prestigious AP? Do it. There are a lot of things I wish I’d done in high school: trained in a form of martial arts, started a business, learned cryptography. But, in an attempt to keep up with what I perceived others were doing, I ignored my passions and suppressed my interests in order to appease my fears.

5. Take charge of your own life now. Don’t wait until you get to college or some point far off in the abstract future. It seems today we’ve moved past the whole idea of “one day my prince will come.” And yet, sadly, Harry Potter was willing to put up with the Dursleys until Hagrid knocked down his door and told him he was wizard. Matilda retreated to her books instead of dealing with her parents and teacher, at least until she got psychic powers. Even Katniss Everdeen didn’t join the resistance until she was forced to by circumstance. But in real life, a giant is not likely to assert themselves into the middle of your apathy. Take ownership of your fate. Don’t wait until you go off to college, or start your career. Don’t find yourself 25 years down the road realizing you actually didn’t want the job all these social pressures pushed you to pursue.

A single day imprisoned by the expectations of people other than yourself is a day too long.  Break Free!