From freshman to senior: lessons I learned

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On June 3, I will officially be a high school graduate. I’m done with this chapter in my life, and I think it’s at about the exact time it needed to end. I don’t mean that in a negative matter, to be clear, but I just don’t want the story to drag on, you know? As of writing this, I’m closing up and making sure that every loose end gets tied (or conveniently forgotten) and the people who I shared these last four years get their proper farewells.

I remember how differently I thought in my freshman year, sophomore year, junior year, and even the beginning of my senior year. The other day, I even went back looking at the articles I’ve written, and man, that’s written documentation of growth.

My freshman year wasn’t so bad. I mean, at the time I thought it was miserable but the reality is that I was a dramatic and awkward being who was unable to particularly conform or understand other people. My interpersonal skills were about as subtle as a coconut falling on your head, and the awkwardness twice that; so I just generally kept to myself and with the small groups of friends I had.

I remember that, on the first day, I had a map marked up of all my classes and how to get to every building from orientation, and I was prepared to not miss a second of class. It got to the point where students saw me as an upperclassman and started to ask me how to get somewhere. That was human contact that I certainly was a stranger to.

That year, I remember one goal: I was going to become more sociable. In my English class that year, in every presentation, I made a complete idiot out of myself, making bold and outrageous statements while making the strangest hand and body gestures I could, all to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people regularly. The theme of freshman year: I can run!

Sophomore year was probably my favorite year, just because of my classes and my friends. I remember that I didn’t like people; and, unlike my somewhat open attitude freshman year, I was very reserved my sophomore year. I think the biggest shift would have been the upperclassmen, the juniors and seniors, who were in the same classes as me.

Did I feel a sort of shame about being young? Was there an aspect of me that couldn’t get along with people? In the end, I can only conclude that I was immature at the time, and I was afraid of making mistakes. But it was that year that I also learned that it’s easier and more beneficial to learn from mistakes at times, because then you know exactly what not to do.

I was more personable, yes, but still as awkward as a plate of spaghetti, and most people around me knew. I think the biggest mistake in my sophomore year was the end-of-year party me and my friends had, where we each got a box of 40 Chicken McNuggets to see who could eat them the fastest (which is exactly as awful as it sounds). It was a horrible mistake, and to this day I can’t eat those things. The theme of sophomore year: Mistakes were made.

Junior year was by far my worst in terms of school life. I had decided to join the IB program at our school, and I was in for a rude awakening. It was backbreaking work. It was difficult at times, and there were nights where I had three or four hours of homework and several projects to complete.

I was so stressed out this year I probably lost about 10 years of life right there. But in the end, academically I grew into a homework machine, being able to juggle all the homework and projects without having to worry or care at all about other aspects of life, because I had no life!

But seriously, I was only really able to hang out at specific times and with the same people; and being able to watch other people socialize gave me some skill in the matter. I became pretty confident with myself, and a little outgoing, but still afraid of making mistakes. That’s a lesson I couldn’t really nail until senior year. Junior year was boring in that sense, but as for a theme, I’d say: The bright thing outside is the sun.

Senior year was probably the most drastic. I gained complete confidence, and was no longer afraid of making mistakes like that. Not to drag on, but this year has been my social year, the time where my work seemingly took less priority than me enjoying myself, and, in the end, I found how to balance them out. A good theme: Ready to grow up.

So what’s the point of this article? Well, I’m reminiscing, so you just sit down and listen to my rambling. But also, I think it’s important to see how we change through the years and reflect on those actions, because to me, that’s what growing up is about: understanding yourself. And moving on to college, I still have a lot of growing to do.

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Blake Echt