Story by Hanna Bae
I have existential dread. I think every teenager does, at least to some extent. And I think lying awake in bed at 2 a.m. the day before your first day of senior year questioning every single decision you’ve made up until that point has to be a universal experience. As cliché as it is, I’m terrified for my senior year.
I understand that I’m filling every romanticized scenario in a budget Dreamworks high school drama, but none of it is truly romantic. How romantic is it trying to get by seventh period AP Computer Science? How romantic is it taking photos alone as a token senior in Photo 1/2? How romantic is it spending hours staring at a blank document trying to come up with an outline for my UC Personal Insight Questions? How romantic is it saying goodbye to the people I cherish most?
I had one last dinner with my graduated friends a couple of weeks ago, almost like our last “hurrah.” Even if we were short one person (you know who you are), it was arguably the weirdest I had felt in a really long time. These people — they’re like a brand new battery. I’m refreshed when I’m with them, and a certain warmth fills my heart as I head home at the end of the day. Yet, as I’m writing this, they’re all on planes, in cities across the country, in dorm rooms on unfamiliar campuses, looking forward to only God knows what.
I’m not even the one moving across the country; why am I uneasy?
I like to say that I’m well-versed in my circles, even if I’m not integral to those circles myself. I have friends that reach far and wide, but maybe not as deep. As people that I consider to be some of my closest friends begin to leave physically, it almost feels like they’re leaving emotionally.
They’re all on different paths in life — at least, very different from mine. I’m here — still here — on this little campus in this little town. They’re off there – all the way there – on those big campuses in those big cities. It’s only natural that they have a new start and I wrap up mine. But, I can’t help but feel discarded. Maybe it was my mistake of sticking so close to people who would inevitably leave much sooner than I anticipated. Maybe it was my mistake to reach beyond my intimate and immediate circles. But I don’t want that to be the case.
As I grapple with a weird in-between of grief and fear, I like to say that I’ve matured. Maybe high school isn’t all about life-long friendships and deep connections. Maybe that type of relationship is further down the line, and maybe not in my AP Microeconomics class.
It’s the expectation of high school being the best four years of my life that consumes me, and it’s my desperation trying to hold onto these predetermined tropes to feel a sense of security that almost holds me back. Ultimately, that’s the romanticization of my last year of high school. Holding onto these last “firsts” and last “lasts.” I only get to be a senior once, and as corny as it may sound, I’ll hold onto every bit. Maybe I’ll start romanticizing AP Gov.