Senior Goodbye: Not ready for change

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Olivia Lauter

“As I enter this new chapter of my life, I can’t help to feel anxious of the unknown. I am starting completely over with new people, in a new city, and alone.”

The past nine months are something that I never would have imagined.

It wasn’t long ago that I was 14-years-old and wandered the halls thinking I knew everything. My biggest accomplishment was taking AP human geography, and running on the junior varsity cross country team. My only source of happiness was validation from teachers and good grades. I had it all figured out, I thought. I knew I would graduate in four years and would continue my driven attitude toward all aspects of life, but life happened. 

Most of my high school experience was spent looking down at the beige floors and navigating my way to find a place to fit in. I didn’t speak much in class, and when I did, my face would turn bright red because I convinced myself that I had said something wrong. Maybe I was a mysterious person to some, but I simply had goals and locked them away for no one to see until they were accomplished. With so many thoughts and wonders in my brain, I had no room to talk. I had no desire to replace what was fueling me with some surface level conversation that consisted of arguing with the freshmen boys that had a hard time sitting down, or chatting with girls about made up boy problems, but it seemed that they all talked so loud that the whole class heard what they said anyways. At 14, I was naive. I was ambitious. I was clueless. 

Looking back now, I had no idea. I had no idea that I would fail miserably and lose more than I ever thought I would lose. Most importantly, I had no idea how much high school would change me. I had no idea how much of an impact it would make on me. Do not get me wrong, it isn’t easy. The AP classes you are told to take because you need to challenge yourself will swallow you whole at times. The 6:30 a.m. practices will seem to be worthless when you don’t see the pay off, and lastly, times will be lonely. Your best friends will come and go, and you will have to learn to be by yourself. 

I have never been short of the truth when it comes to difficulty, but the experiences that create joy for days within you, most definitely outweigh the times of uncertainty and awkwardness. My unathletic 14-year-old self never thought I would be running at the state cross-country championships my senior year. Although it didn’t end the way my team and I wanted to, the hours I spent bettering myself by being around like-minded, driven people has made me into the person I am today. 

I do have a secret though. The journal I scribbled my goals on still sits in my nightstand drawer. A journal entry that marked 11/5/2017 expressed my desperate desire to run at state one day. Out of hard work and faith, it came true. I am able to put that journal to rest, knowing all I have overcome. 

With that being said, I have one piece of advice: The truth is that it is up to you whether you accomplish your goals. This is something that took me a long time to realize. Free yourself from the victimhood you place yourself under and break free. It is possible. 

As I enter this new chapter of my life, I can’t help to feel anxious of the unknown. I am starting completely over with new people, in a new city, and alone. It is bittersweet to leave my friends and have to watch them grow from a distance, but I pray that they are able to become the people they are supposed to be. 

So here we are, fast forward three years of growth, heartbreak and struggles. I am getting ready to graduate. At 17 years old, I am still naive, but the world knows me a little better. I know the world a little better. I know it can be cruel, manipulative and unfair. As the class of 2021 seniors, we have seen that world at its worst. We have seen isolation. We have seen depression. We have seen anxiety. Maybe this makes us more prepared to leap into the world, or maybe this terrifies us because we see what the world is capable of doing. 

It may have felt like this year has continuously dragged me away from what I want to achieve. Smiles have been erased from faces, and censored by masks. My school is now a local coffee shop and a messy bed; although I must admit I have many backaches because of my improper posture while doing school work in my bed. Besides the point, I cannot wait to put on my graduation cap and my gown, and run fearlessly into my new chapter. The place I will make new relationships, learn more than I ever have before, and impact others in the most positive way. 

Thank you for the people in my life who have continuously supported me and have shown me what love and tutelage is. Although I was pretty disappointed that my high school experience was not like Disney’s “High School Musical,” I made relationships with people that made it better. It may not always end happily and may not align with every Hollywood movie plot ever made. Yet, my opinion is that the ups and downs and uncontrollable emotions of my experience should be airing in movie theaters near you. Create your own story. Be your own person. Express your own style. 

So this is the end, I could go on forever about how much high school has meant to me, but in a month, I will be standing next to my peers that I went to middle school with for the last time ever. Thank you Lovejoy High School for never ending relationships and for providing me with the best person in my life. You don’t disappoint. Keep it up.