Being a senior at KO means a lot of things. You are allowed to walk on the senior green, even though you’ll spend the first two months of school hesitating before you walk on because you’re trained to avoid it. You are applying for college, which brings its own waves of stress. You’ve been at KO longer than most of the teachers. You stop knowing most people’s names. And finally, you probably don’t actually feel like a senior, or at least how you expected being a senior felt.
And if you’re like me, this brought some confusion. Because when I was a freshman, the seniors were so cool! They were mature and put-together. They were confident, cool, and had it all figured out (whatever “it” was). There was something about them that was special and elevated them to idol status. A status that one day I hoped I would feel bestowed upon me. But now I’m a senior, and I don’t feel cool. I just feel like me.
And it turns out that attributes like confident and cool are performative by nature, so it doesn’t matter if someone considers him or herself cool or confident as long as other people do. These special attributes are more like something that’s put upon people instead of something people claim. But despite this, weren’t we supposed to feel those attributes bestowed upon us, and start feeling like seniors at some point? Was there a turn we missed on the winding path of adolescence that would’ve led us to becoming as cool as the seniors when we were freshmen, instead of just feeling like middle schoolers in bigger clothes and better haircuts?
And we’re told all the time that we have clout and influence on the school culture. Our advisors explained it to us. Also explaining this concept was the prefects’ advisors, the senior prefects’ sixth grade advisors, and Mr. G, probably.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t wake up in the morning and think to myself, “Boy, it sure feels good to have clout.” And yet, there are probably freshmen that wake up and say, “Boy, I wish I had clout.” We don’t notice that we matter, but everyone else seems to.
Well when we tell ourselves that we don’t feel like seniors, there’s a bigger question lurking beneath that statement that asks: is this it? Are these the years that adults sit around and reminisce about? Is there something I missed?
Personally, the only way I feel like a senior is that I’ve been in high school for four years, and senior year is what I’m supposed to call this fourth year. I don’t know if I did or didn’t miss something during high school that would’ve made the experience more special. Maybe I did. I’ve been through a handful of depressive fogs during high school, so some stuff might’ve slipped past me. I don’t know. Maybe the only requirement of feeling like a senior is to feel confused and anxious. To feel like you’re looking over your shoulder asking what you missed, while also looking ahead to see what’s next.
Maybe we should’ve expected the worst from high school so that way we couldn’t be let down. That would’ve been nice, even if it is a sad way to go through life. I don’t know if that would’ve been a good idea. I only know five things in total, and here they are:
- The first is that if we don’t feel mature and put-together as seniors, then neither did the seniors when we were freshmen, and that means that probably no one feels mature and put-together at any point in life.
- The second is that it doesn’t matter if we feel special because we are to everyone else, so please be nice.
- The third is that unless we live in a cruel and awful world, high school will not be the best years of our lives.
- The fourth thing is that we probably got our hopes up about senior year and high school in general.
- The fifth thing is what I learned this summer when school was out and I had nothing holding me back from becoming the cooler version of myself that I dreamed about finally becoming (spoiler alert: I didn’t).
This wasn’t the first time I’d gotten my hopes up like this. When I was in sixth grade, I thought that going to KO would fix everything for me, until I got here in seventh grade, and I felt pretty much like the same person. When I was a freshman, I thought getting a lead part in a musical or play would magically cause me to become put-together and happy all the time, because that’s what the leads in the play and musical seemed like. But then I got one in sophomore year, and I felt pretty similar to how I felt freshman year, which was neither put-together nor happy all the time.
I had grown, sure, and I was probably more mature, but I didn’t feel as special as I expected to feel. And when I was a junior, I thought that when I went to Internationals for speech and debate, I would get there and become just like the past Forensic Union members who I had looked up to. But then I got there and I was still myself. I’ve never been able to leave myself behind and become what the older kids always seemed to be. I’ve only ever grown into myself.
Eventually you realize that wherever you go and whatever you do, you’re still going to take yourself with you (It’s a good thing your own self is good company. And if you don’t believe that, well there are certainly underclassmen that do.)