In 24 hours, it’ll all be over. I will never write a DBQ again. I will never check the Home Access Center again. I will never make my daily walk from the loser lot to Mr. Murphy’s classroom for first period again. It’ll all be over, and I don’t know how I feel.
When I thought about graduation day in the past, I assumed I would be either very thrilled or super upset about leaving high school and moving forward. However, all I feel now is an uneasy feeling in my chest that I cannot fully put into words.
When I came into the doors of CRN as a freshman, I was the smallest person ever, both in height and mental strength. I was intimidated by filling out volunteering forms, I based my happiness on guys, and I didn’t have anything that made me happy in a healthy way. I didn’t care much about grades, and in a way, I miss that part of me. All of that started changing when I joined cross country sophomore year. The sport made me happy in the healthiest of ways and brought out the confidence I didn’t know I had within me. Sophomore year was probably my happiest year, mainly because I didn’t have many obstacles, other than Honors Chemistry, to overcome. I also had some of my favorite teachers of all time that year, and I knew that if the opportunity to learn from them came again, I would take it. Junior year, all hell broke loose. SAT prep absolutely destroyed me mentally, I went from running varsity to being out for the season, my skin was in its worst state ever on my accutane cycle, and I learned what it was like to feel like your heart was being ripped out of your chest. I had some good days, but the majority were so dark, and even though I can’t blame CRN for all of it, school became pretty miserable for me last year. After getting my shit together over the summer, senior year was such a pleasant surprise. I had my best XC season, got accepted into a school I absolutely love (go tribe!!!), worked my butt off at my jobs, and was genuinely interested in the courses I took. I still struggle with a lot of the stuff I struggled with throughout my years at North, but I was really lucky with the way things turned out this year.
I know my story is different from everyone else’s, but my experiences at CRN can be summarized by one word: necessary. Without the expertise of my English and social studies teachers, I straight up would not know how to write. They taught me how to dig as deep as possible to craft the best argument possible, and without this necessary skill, I would be absolutely screwed for college. Also, without the inspiration from finally learning how to write properly, I would never have started this blog. These teachers truly helped me unlock my full potential, and though it wasn’t always easy, it was extremely necessary. On the other hand, I was forced to take classes like biology that I absolutely hated, and that I won’t be taking in college, but they too were necessary in their own ways. Do I have regrets about certain course selections? Do I wish that more necessary classes like personal finance were mandatory? Of course, and that’s why I’ll never label my academic experiences at North as perfect.
In a more emotional sense, I also experienced some of my greatest joys thanks to this school, from medaling in cross country races, to getting academic awards, to bantering with my teachers, to winning trivia night (the peak of my existence). Likewise, I experienced some of my lowest moments thanks to this school, from my first real heartbreak, to my cross country-induced injuries, to some disappointing test scores. Both types of experiences were necessary to my growth, humility, and gratitude. They taught me how to persevere through days when all I wanted to do was go to bed, and they taught me how to sing with all the windows down in my car when everything felt right.
I’ve always been bothered by people who didn’t appreciate all the opportunities and advantages that we had as Council Rock North students. Yes, there are some not-so-great teachers at North, but the majority of them are insanely qualified. Yes, administration cannot always give us what we want, but they always let us use our voices to instigate change. Yes, the cafeteria food is pretty disgusting, but it’s much better than that of other schools. I understand that living in privileged, white suburbia isn’t an ideal place for a lot of people, but that’s not an excuse to be completely ungrateful about all the good things that this town and this school brought into our lives. This common mindset was easily my least favorite thing about CRN, and I hope my classmates in college will be appreciative of the opportunities that we’re lucky enough to have.
All things aside though, saying goodbye to the student body puts a weird sinking feeling in my chest. On one hand, I’m excited to never have to see certain people again. There are a few people I’ve met in the last four years that are really self-centered and rude. I don’t think they’re all evil, horrible people, but they’re definitely people who won’t be hard to say goodbye to. I hope that I get to eventually hear through the grapevine that they have become better people and done something important with their lives. Then there are those classmates I never got the chance to get to know, but who have made their mark on this school in a positive way. They won’t be difficult to say goodbye to, but I hope they achieve everything they’ve ever dreamt of. Then there are my really close friends. I’m not too worried about saying goodbye to them either. While the actual moment we part ways will undoubtedly be tear-filled, I’m pretty confident I’ll see them again and again during school breaks. There’s less than a handful of people in this group, and even though I cannot be certain that I’ll stay friends with them forever, I do trust that we’ll put equal effort into preserving the friendship in any way we reasonably can. The group that I’m the most afraid of saying goodbye to is the people who I wish I could stay in touch with but won’t be able to. When I say goodbye to these people 24 hours from now, I know it’ll probably be the last time I see them, other than at a few graduation parties in the next coming weeks. There are a lot of people in this group. These may be the people who have brightened so many days of school for me, but who I’ve never gotten the chance to spend time with outside of school. These may be the people with whom my relationship has had obstacles that were difficult to fully overcome. These may be the people who I know won’t make an effort to see me, or likewise they may be the people who I won’t make the effort to see. No matter what the reason, these people will essentially leave my life once we leave for college. I know the easy answer to wishing I could keep them in my life forever is to just make the effort and ask them to meet up first, but the question I keep coming back to is, why make an effort to solidify something from the past when the future can bring so many new connections?
At the end of the day though, I find peace in knowing whatever is meant to be will be. I know that goodbyes are a natural part of growing up, and even though some of these goodbyes are permanent while others are temporary, I’ll never be void of the support and love I need (unless a meteor kills all my close friends and family). I also know that there’s a whole new group of people at William and Mary that I cannot wait to meet. I guess when one door closes, another one truly does open. Though closing the door of Council Rock North friendships will really suck, I’m genuinely optimistic about opening the next door on move-in day in August.
The summer ahead of me is going to be the first time I have complete freedom to pursue whatever I want. I feel like Ben from The Graduate writing that, for I feel the same sense of uneasiness that the protagonist felt after returning home after graduating college in the film…but that’s where the similarities between Ben and I end (if you’ve seen the film you know what I mean). Anyways, back to my life. There’s no more SAT prep, no more summer work (except a book that W&M wants us to read), no more college applications. I really hated that my summers revolved around school-centered tasks in years past, but now I’m realizing that being free of responsibility is a little daunting to me. I know I’ll keep myself busy by taking on multiple babysitting jobs, and I know that preparing for the move to VA will give me a lot of errands to run almost every day, but what do I do in the free time in between? I decided to center my summer around reading, running, and relaxing. The three R’s, right? Hopefully having this kind of focus will give me a sense of structure that I’m slowly realizing I desperately need.
At the end of the day, I can’t sit here and say that my life is going to begin the second I get that diploma. I’ve had every opportunity to truly “live” during my years at CRN. I didn’t always take advantage of the opportunity, but it was always there.
I also can’t sit here and make some of the big claims I’ve seen others make. CRN didn’t “give me my best friend”- my elementary school did that. CRN wasn’t the “best 4 years” and it wasn’t the “worst 4 years” of my life- it was a constant roller-coaster. Like I said earlier, my time at Council Rock North was what it needed to be, and for that itself, I’m pretty damn grateful.