I have lived in my house for 15 years. I have gone to the same high school for four years. And, before Archer, I had gone to the same middle and elementary school for nine years. School and home have always been a constant in my life. The teachers, friends and peers that I have surrounded myself with don’t change very often. I rely on the FaceTime call I get every night from one of my closest school friends, the same way I rely on that one person from every class to text me and ask for the homework details.
College seems far away. Yet, when I count the months I have left with my friends and my family, I realize I am regretful. I regret choosing to stay in my room when I am tired rather than in my father’s arms. I regret summer nights out with my friends rather than going on long walks with my mom. I regret getting annoyed by my siblings over insignificant arguments or bothering them when things aren’t done my way. I regret not spending time with my friends, and not calling them even though it has always been hard for me to make the first move. I regret worrying so much over a grade on a piece of paper rather than worrying about whether or not I was being a good friend. I regret closing myself off during the pandemic. I regret losing contact with all the strangers I call “my old friends.”
I have learned much during my time at Archer. However, I struggle with the thought that after two months, I will no longer be taking the bus every morning to a place I called home for so long.
I try to go through the steps of graduating and leaving for college, but it doesn’t seem to fit right. I think about the friends I will be leaving behind and the pets that will have to learn to live without me. I think about the neighbor that always asks how old I am and the old lady at my church that swears she will make it to my wedding. I think about my old school principal that told me I was nothing more than a “C student,” and my fourth grade teacher that told me I would never grow up. I think about my middle school art teacher who was the first person to teach me to believe in myself.
I think about the teachers and the friends that stood by my endless hours of tears or my inability to control my laughter. I worry they will forget me when I have moved on. I worry my impact is fleeting. I wonder if I were to come back to Archer in a year, maybe two, would my teachers even remember me? Will I be known as someone that made a difference in the lives of the people I met, or will I be known as just another alumni?
I realize college will be completely different, a whole new realm of experiences and memories. My hot afternoons will turn into shivering mornings as I watch the snow fall. The good morning hug I receive every day from my father will turn into thoughtful text messages.
I am not ready to leave behind my little sister, to watch her grow up from afar. I worry she will forget all the excuses I have helped her come up with in the face of trouble. I worry that I will come back and see she has a new favorite book, one that she hasn’t gushed over a million times to me. I worry she will meet her soulmate without me, or experience her first heartbreak without me holding her hand.
Although I feel anxious and upset, I do feel empowered. I do not seem like it all the time, but I am brave and strong and I know the next chapter of my life will be rewarding. I will walk in the shoes of world leaders, make lasting friendships and come into my own. I am not worried my life will fall apart once I leave, I worry that I am going to realize I have yet to really live.
I stare at my new senior hoodie and I smile at all the names of the people I have spoken to, collaborated with and made my forever memories with, and I smile. I think about the lives they will live, their accomplishments and the memories they will make. I am grateful each of them was a part of my story, a part of the many chapters that make up my life’s narrative. I am even more grateful to have been a part of their stories, even if it were just a line.