Senior goodbye: Life is a highway


Shae Daugherty

“Don’t hamper yourself down with situations that won’t mean much if at all in the long run.”

Caleb Stein, Staff Writer

“Life is a highway.”

I didn’t think the quote I would lead with for my last written piece as a staff member of The Red Ledger would be an excerpt from a song used in a Pixar movie, but here we are.

But in terms of the message I want to give, it fits perfectly. I don’t believe many people would turn to country music for life advice, but life, and on a much smaller scale high school, really is a road trip.

When I finally got my license at the end of my sophomore year, my life drastically changed. No longer did I need to beg my parents to bring me places or get me things. I had the freedom to go do what I wanted and what I needed on my own. The feeling was liberating.

But once I got on the roads on my own, I learned not everything was as perfect as I envisioned. I was the one who had to pay attention to the roads, my speed, and other drivers. I couldn’t just doze off in the passenger seat or respond to texts like I used to. And driving made me realize that there are a bunch of annoyances when you’re on the road.

There will be times when you believe that your luck cannot get any worse on the road. You hit every red light. You get stuck behind someone going 15 mph under the speed limit. You get caught in traffic that seems to never end. And it sucks.

But then there are those times where everything on the road seems to go right. You don’t miss a green light. You’re cruising down the road or highway with no other cars in sight. You’ve got the window down and the wind whipping as you approach your destination. And those are some of the best feelings in the world.

It’s very apt because it really is a lot like life. There will be times when nothing seems to break your way–when anything that could possibly backfire does, and in the worst way. But then there are the times when you’re on Cloud Nine, when you can’t be bothered to be annoyed by the small inconveniences in life.

Look, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. High school isn’t all blue skies and roses. For a good amount of the time, this place is awful. You will wonder what you’ve done wrong to incur such punishment. The times that feel like you’ve been caught in West Lucas road traffic for an hour. The times that feels like you’re driving behind someone going so slow that you want to explode. But those are minor inconveniences. Eventually you will make it past that light on West Lucas, that driver will eventually make a turn and be out of your way.

Occasionally I would look back at a few of the decisions I made during my four years here and wonder, what was wrong with me? How could I have been so ignorant to the truth that was in front of me the whole time? Why did I let myself make such a stupid mistake? In the moment, these decisions felt right, but maybe they weren’t the correct choice for me in the long run.

And as my last year here progressed I realized: they were the right decisions. Every choice I made during my high school years was crucial in shaping who I am. Who I associate with, how I want to live my life, what I want to do with my life.

Not taking dual credit this year was a terrible idea in hindsight. But had I done it, I would have missed out on meeting some of the people who I’ve grown closest to this year. Not pursuing more of the opportunities I had are things I look back on and kick myself over. But different possibilities became available that I’m happy with now, ones that may not have happened had I done things differently. Walking away from the sport I love at the end of my junior year was the toughest decision I’ve made in my whole life. But quitting has left me in the best physical, mental, and emotional state I’ve been in during my entire time here.

Everything you do during your years here play a part in making you who you are. Instead of being hampered by the bad parts of these four years, focus on the good ones. Experiences that validate your hard work or make everything break just right. Those times when you’re driving down the road and you’re the only car in sight. Those times when the perfect song comes on and you’ve got the volume just right. Those experiences are the ones that you will remember in the long run, so cherish them in the moment.

I don’t want to sound cliché but it’s the truth: you only get to experience high school once. Don’t hamper yourself down with situations that won’t mean much if at all in the long run. I had bad days, for sure, but almost every time I had forgotten about those days a week later if not even less than that. There is no point getting mad at the red lights. There is no reason to get angry at the bad drivers.

Just drive.