Throughout my high school career, I got to experience the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs of my life so far. I loved and hated, won and lost - everything in between. Now that the hectic time of graduation and my four years have come to an end, it’s safe to say that I don’t regret a moment of it. Everything I experienced to everyone I met has allowed me to grow in not just learning, but to grow as a person to who I am today and helped shape who I will be in the future.
As I thought about each individual year and all the memories within them, I wanted to culminate them into four lessons I’ve learned in my four years. It was quite the trip down memory lane as I pondered, read through old journal entries, watched old footage, to see if there was one “main idea” (as they would call it in elementary) that I could take away from each year in high school. These main ideas have shown me just how far I’ve grown from a freshman to a senior. It’s the lessons that I plan to keep in mind and bring with me as I move onto the bigger journey, that is, college. Although it may sound rather redundant to hear, as these lessons I’ve learned are common advice that everyone receives - it hits me closer to home knowing that I had to truly experience it to take hold of these simple quotes.
FRESHMAN YEAR: Don’t focus on the negative.
Coming straight out of middle school, and into the big sea full of big fish, it was nerve-wracking that I had to spend yet another three years here. I knew I had a standard for myself and had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but was uncertain on how to get there. That uncertainty lead to a lot of doubt in myself as well as others - which resulted in me falling out with a lot of my friends and came to a point where I didn't have any. I was so focused on the things that could go wrong that I felt like I needed to control everything, and if it wasn't in my control then I'd go on a downward spiral of endless doubt and negativity. It took a good hearing of "God is in control," and quite a lot of it for me to learn to give it up, and in the words of Carrie Underwood, let Jesus take the wheel. As I grasped learning that I just needed to let go because God will take care of me, I also knew that I had to let go of all this mistrust and doubt about my friends and my circumstances, and with time and God allowing, I was able to make amends. Understanding that things go wrong at times and that everything happens for a reason was essential for me, and became a constant reminder whenever I went through hardship. It's to focus on the bigger picture, the bigger part of any problem was what I could get from it. It's like as they say, the devil is in the details.
SOPHOMORE YEAR: It’s important to forgive.
As I moved along the second year of high school, I felt wronged on many occasions. There were times that I felt that I didn't exactly get what I knew I deserved (then my reminder, of everything happens for a reason, came into play), as well as many instances where I felt accused and misunderstood. This year was - and I can't stress this enough - learning how to be slow to anger, and realizing how being slow to anger and ready to forgive (even if you felt that the person didn't deserve forgiveness) was important. As I was quick to hold a grudge, I got nothing valuable from doing that because I was only adding fire to the flame. Holding hostile feelings, especially for long periods of time, makes one unappreciative - I needed to extinguish those flames with a good blow of empathy. Putting yourself in someone's shoes, understanding their point of view and respecting their feelings - even if you may not agree - helped me learn to forgive. Coming from a Christian standpoint, Christ forgave us for even the deepest of sins. It wouldn't be Christ-like to not forgive.
JUNIOR YEAR: Be realistic, but don’t sell yourself short.
SAT, ACT, AP, Orchestra, Honor Society.. the list went on and on. Junior year in general, was the hardest year of high school because I felt like I needed to do everything. College was in the rear-view mirror, and its down to your test scores and what you do in high school that determine where one would go for college, among many other things that they look for. With that in mind, I knew that I needed to really bulk up my plate - so I filled it to the brim. Sure enough, I disregarded all friends nagging me about how "I'm going to lose it", because I thought I could handle the work-load. I thought wrong, and I lost it, quite to my friends "I told you so" appease yet disgruntled feeling towards all I had to do. I had to learn to do things that were within reason, but also understand that God won't give me more than what I can't handle. I learned that I could take the challenge, yet also understood that I needed to pace myself and not run myself thin.
SENIOR YEAR: Just when you think it’s over, the race is not over yet.
The year that will go down in history, 2020. This year was truly the end of a beginning, and a start of a new one. Regardless of the pandemic that quite literally changed our lives, senior year was nothing like a "chill time" as many alumni have told me. At times I felt more stressed in senior year than I felt in junior year, not because of the work-load, but rather because the end of high school was so close that I thought I could go downhill a little bit, but that was impossible on a constant upward climax that would've kept going till graduation day. While the workload was manageable, senioritis really dented my work-ethic for a while, and there were many days where I'd come home, knock-out on the couch or laze around my house knowing I have a bunch of things to do. It took me third quarter to realize that I needed to get my act together, as I needed to finish strong for college and for the goals I've worked so hard for since freshman year. Now that I am officially an alumni, I now realize that this happy-sad ending of high school was just one checkpoint of my life, and I have a new set of trials and obstacles that I have to face head-on with no hesitation.
By God's blessing, I was able to achieve my goals - I became a Valedictorian with Academic and CTE Honors and got into a Christian university, among many other accomplishments. This was not just a result of hard-work but the result of the love and support of my family and friends that have driven me to reach for them. I fulfilled the promises to my grandparents, especially my Grandpa, who must be smiling so hard in heaven. I had an amazing high school career with many lessons, but good memories that I will forever cherish. I write this full of gratitude towards everyone who has helped me throughout the past 17 years of my life and to those who continue to shower me with love everyday.