By: Peyton Lawson
Dear Class of 2019,
You’re looking forward to the end of junior year because, let’s be honest, it has been a wild ride. If you are anything like I was a year ago, you enrolled in way too many AP classes that you couldn’t get out of, you decided to join every honor society you were invited to, and have spent the last several months developing the ability to complete hours of work in small amounts of time (all while running on little to no sleep). At this point, you probably feel like the world is caving in because you’re doing so much but not doing anything up to the standards you’ve placed on yourself. I know it’s emotional and exhausting and confusing. The good news is that you’re almost to the finish line of the year. The bad news is that senior year is just as emotional, exhausting, and confusing; it’s just emotional in a different way. I’m writing this in an attempt to put into words what I’ve been feeling over the past months. Hopefully, this will prepare you for next year.
Right off the bat, no other time in my life thus far has felt as permanent and life-altering as this year. Up to this point, I have never had a big move across the country, major school change, or even a friend-group change. My life has been (almost) exactly the same for as long as I can remember. I think that has added to the emotions of the year. The first day of senior year comes fast. It’s not as glamorous as I’d always imagined, but there are so many emotions. Initially, the decorating and preparing for the senior parade was a fun time. I was surrounded by my day-one friends, blaring music, and taking in the last warm summer night. After all the cars were decorated, I looked around at the smiling faces and felt overwhelmed with unpreparedness. How were we seniors already? How did the days of being a scared 9th grader slip away into the more stressed days of the following years? Then, I thought back even further as our moms took our pictures. I thought of my daddy-daughter picnic in Kindergarten and my first day of middle school. I thought of the early start day from three years before. I felt a sense of regret– I could’ve appreciated those moments more. As everyone pulled away from our painting session, I realized that I had to take each day of senior year as its own and try to appreciate it while I still could. These emotions have followed me closely, being joined by a few others in the recent months.
Everything kinda ran together after that, as most school years do, I guess. The memories of this year, however, carry more weight. I cried before my first football game. I had gotten so used to the roar of the Hooligans, sweet tune of the band dances, the way the husky paw sticker slides down my face, and the hum of the Friday night lights. On the first game day of this, I realized that senior year meant the end of these things. I felt an emotion that I hadn’t expected to feel: fear. I feared that I would spend time in the future missing these moments. I feared that they would slip away, no matter how focused I was on preserving them. On the first day of school, everything felt different. I realized that, as I walked through the halls I couldn’t recognize a majority of people. I was one of the “big kids” now. I felt more respected by teachers and fellow students. I felt completely at home.
At this point, you’re expected to know where you want to apply to go to college. I didn’t. I pretty much randomly picked some schools and started my Common App because I was still in denial about my senior status. (I wouldn’t recommend this method.)
As the weather got cooler, things started to get real. Unfortunate news flash: senior year is not less stressful than junior year. I wrote more essays than I would’ve ever imagined and they took me longer than any essay had before. The thing with writing college essays is that I wanted them to be perfect. I realized that all of my hard work up to that point needed to be reflected in 40+ 250 word essays. I wrote them, rewrote them, and rewrote them again. Eventually, I had to be satisfied with them and just press submit. At this same time, the semester was in full swing along with football and competition season for cheer. I spent the entire cheer season taking extra pictures, cheering extra loud, and soaking in all the aspects of FNL. That didn’t make the season go by any slower. I have brief flashes of memory from major season events: winning Homecoming Queen, the crazy-hype WF game, and senior night.
Sooner than I would’ve liked, I found myself at my headed what would be my last high school football game. I put on the white uniform I’d gotten so comfortable in and I rode with my team to a school four hours away. I was in denial but was aware of the chance it could be my last game. Some of my best guy friends ran through the banner for the last time as the game started. I went through the motions of gameday– just as I had been doing so comfortably for four seasons. Then, it hit me. With five minutes left in the game, I realized we were about to lose. The emotions and realness of the night made my stomach turn and tears form in my eyes. That is the first time that I felt such a complete ending to a chapter of my life. I called my favorite cheers for the last time and appreciated them a little extra. As I looked to the sidelines, tears streamed down some of my best friends’ faces. They were feeling the same emotions that I was. At that point, I wanted nothing more than to start the whole experience over, to cheer at the hottest and most freezing football games. I just wanted one more of Joe’s sacks or Gunnar’s touchdowns. Just one more would’ve been great. But, it was over. I put my poms in my bag, got in the car, and went home. My favorite part of high school had ended.
The next few months went by even faster. As I completed college apps, senioritis set in and all motivation left. I also started to realize who really matters in my life and who doesn’t. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of really great people this year that I’ve been going to school with for all of high school. I learned that it’s okay to just do my own thing sometimes. I even joined the Newspaper staff for the heck of it. Skip to post-Christmas. Mid-year grads leave and I realize that I’ll be leaving soon too. At this point, a new wave of emotions arrived. I felt heartbreak because I realized that I won’t be in the house to watch my younger siblings grow into young people. I won’t be living at home when my brother has his first day of high school or my sister faces her experience with first middle school girl drama. I’d never realized this before. I also realized how many people had impacted my life: teachers, friends, family, coaches, and even acquaintances. I felt guilty for not thanking them enough. The other emotion I felt as I looked around at senior roundup was pride. I was a senior in high school. My friends were going places to go be great people. I was going to do the same. Sometimes, I felt excited for the future, but I inevitably arrived back at fear.
Recently, college decision letters have started appearing in mailboxes. Prom plans are being made. I have booked a house for spring break and registered for my last AP exams. Now, I realize that things are falling into place. I have 11 weeks of high school left. That’s only 11 weeks worth of off-campus lunches, smiling at friends in the familiar halls, and being a part of that rush between classes. It’s all about to be over. Just like that. I find myself at a crossroads where I will be completely done with high school and not yet started with anything else. I’ll miss the familiarity of everything. I’ll miss that white uniform that has become my second skin. I’ll miss wasting time at Husky Help and rushing back from lunch. Now, I feel grateful for the people I’ve met, opportunities I’ve been given, and lessons that HHS has taught me. I feel proud of who I’ve become. Also, my formerly-strict parents have been way more chill. That’s a plus.
The last and most surprising emotion I’ve felt is jealousy. In recent weeks, I’ve felt jealous of every grade below mine. You guys are lucky– you have more time in the comforts of childhood, in the stands of Husky Stadium, and in the friendships you’ve built. Use your remaining days wisely. You’ll be in my exact seat before you know it. It’s emotional–don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A Member of the Class of 2018