The end of high school

Thursday was my final day of high school. Well, my final *official* day of high school classes. Technically, my last day of in-person school was in March which is crazy to think about. It was a mediocre day, and while I remember it pretty well, it’s hard not to wonder what the last day of school would’ve look like had we been able to have it in-person.

Today I was talking with my friend about the situation seniors are dealing with and about the current state of the world. We both attended Black Lives Matter protests over the last week and couldn’t believe how much energy we spent complaining about the loss of our senior year. We were dumbfounded as to why it was such a big deal when there are things that matter so much more happening in the world.

Yes, we’re missing out on prom and graduation and a class trip — but there are also people dying, every day. There are also people who don’t get to attend school in the first place who would do anything to be in our shoes. Although it may not feel like it all the time, we are so lucky. And it took us this long to truly comprehend that.

Honestly, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. At the beginning of quarantine, I wrote a blog post every day/week, lamenting and expressing my anger and sadness about missing out on my senior year. I would FaceTime my friends daily and complain about how much we disliked online school and wished we could return to normalcy.

I don’t think my — or anyone’s — feelings are invalid, so I don’t regret the emotions I felt or the way I reacted. But this whole experience has taught me a lot; most importantly, it reminded me that many of my problems are so first-world, and before I complain, I need to look at the bigger picture. There are so many things I could have used (and still can use) my spare time and energy towards to help other people.

A beautiful thing about life, though, is that, while you can’t go back and redo anything, you can always start from scratch. Tomorrow’s a new day, and you have the power to make the changes — whether they be global changes or personal changes — that you want to make.

Clearly, the end of high school has got me feeling a little deep and reflective. I’m really sad that it ended this way, but to be honest: it just makes me that much more excited about the next stage of my life. I missed out on an important phase, but why not choose to make every part of my life an important and meaningful one?

I think I learned more life lessons this semester than I have during my whole life. It was an emotional time, for sure, but now that high school is behind me, I am excited to move forward and to focus on the things that I’m passionate about.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my generation is graduating from high school during a global pandemic and amidst a time of racial inequality and protest (along with a million other things). I truly think it’s a sign from the universe to all of us young people, telling us to fight for what’s right, to continue learning, to demand justice, and to never stop counting our blessings. And from now on, I intend to listen.

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