The Truth Behind Senior Year

Senior Row sign that hangs over the benches.

“Senior Row” sign that hangs over the benches.

I have played ‘Keep Holding On’ by Avril Lavigne consecutively for the past two weeks. As someone who is transitioning into their last month of high school, I find it now harder than ever to drag myself out of bed every morning, and keep my grades up in classes that I do not need to graduate. In some ways, I wish these classes had some type of incentive. I would not only value class time, but the amount of effort I apply.

Signs that hang over senior row spell out "pride".
Signs that hang over senior row spell out “pride”.

For example, take the class I am in right now: Newspaper Production. As much as our staff loves to disclose the latest topics of interest to our readers through the expression of writing, there are distractions. We have our fair share of distractions considering the majority of the class is seniors. Whether scrolling through numerous prom dress sites, looking for ‘the one,’ or occupying the main printer with a series of 15­20 work logs; this class is certainly an accurate depiction of ‘senior struggles.’

I remember last year, every senior told me this year is suppose to be the ‘best time of my life,’ classes are ‘easy’, or at least ‘everything gets better’ after first semester. Well, I am here to tell underclassmen, juniors, anyone who has not reached this time in their life yet: this is not the case.

Much of what happens senior year is inevitable, as well as what we have on our mind. Senior Project for instance, consumes the majority of the year, internally and externally. March is the prime month in which you work on your project, peers may attend your event, and to the eye everything may seem to be going smoothly. However, all throughout the year, knowing an eight to ten minute presentation in May will determine whether or not you graduate, eats away at you both mentally and emotionally. Unfortunately, extensive projects have the ability to go haywire. You may think every one of your friends will most definitely show up to your project, but it’s not until the actual event day or night before that you find out no one is coming.

In accordance to workload, this does not only come from classes in school, but tasks that need to be completed for your future. Scholarships can be equated to applying to college, many requiring three letters of recommendation, an official copy of your high school transcript, resume, and 500 word or more essay. An essay amount for one scholarship, may double or triple the 650 word limit required for the Common Application. And of course, you have an extremely limited amount of time to complete all of this, especially if the scholarship opportunities are sent out a week before the deadline.

We are not in the moment, rather we are constantly thinking about what is to come: prom, graduation, how many school days left, break time, etc. All of these thoughts, combine into what I like to call a ‘seniority mentality.’ This idea made up of extreme anxiety, but also excitement for the future. Part of this is always questioning our decisions. Especially the one that must be made by May 1: where are you going to college? This is the classic conversation starter relatives prompted during holidays this year. Or if you are not continuing a secondary education, you are at least asked: what are you doing with yourself?

I mean, we are 17 and 18 years old. We do not entirely know. I believe we are expected to know more about ourselves than we really do. If you think about older brothers or sisters, even cousins, how long did it truly take them to figure out what they wanted to do with themselves? Going to college is one thing, progressing in life with education is another. There are many people that go to college, but still do not know what to do with the degree. Questioning themselves yet again: was the time, money, and effort worth it?

I think this is an idea that is important to remember, as a senior and for those who follow: education is always worth it. If you have had Ms. Mason for history yet, you would know her constant use of the phrase, “Education is the key to success.” But I cannot think of a better philosophy to live by. I believe this idea is what has kept me going this year. I remind myself education will not stop after high school. I plan on going to college, so really this is only the end to one chapter, and the beginning to another. In order to succeed in life, it is not about the standards other set for you. Success can be defined in wealth, but it should not be the goal to venture. Success can be defined in attaining a degree, working the job you always wanted, and having a family you always envisioned yourself to raise.

The “the truth behind senior year” is that you find truth. You have epiphanies, you develop an entirely new outlook on your future that may completely differ from six months prior. You discover yourself and direct the compass of where you are headed. There were times I felt as though I did not have control where my future went. I was rejected from my top three schools, and initially I thought I would never get over it. But you have to believe everything happens for a reason, and move on because life goes on.

Senior year is not ‘easy,’ it may not be the ‘best time of your life,’ and at times it seems as though ‘nothing will get better.’ But this is suppose to happen. It is essential to come to this realization, in order to make the most of your senior year. Nothing is ever easy, if it was then there would be no room for challenge and growth, overall improvement. It’s unfair to say this year will ‘be the best time of your life,’ when we constantly refer to and hope for a future that has more in­ store for us. You must live in the moment, but know where you are now, does not define where you will go next. You must strive for change, in a moment that may seem dim, in order to make tomorrow bright.

As for me, I do not know exactly how I will feel when I walk across the stage at the Ryan Center in June. However, I do know that if I hadn’t experienced everything I did my senior year, I may not have realized the truth behind myself.