Taking a snapshot of junior year

It’s taken me two years to write another column. Haunted by my days ranting about preteen catastrophes like the ruling regime at the Galleria, I have been terrified of saying something I’d later regret.

But I am on the verge of 18, and I finally feel like I have to say something after keeping my mouth shut for so long.

Next year I’ll be writing my senior column, and much of my experience from this year will be fogged over with senior bonding, endless memories of cougar-greyhound days and overall merriment.
That snapshot of myself as a wise-ass 15-year-old who thought she knew everything embarrasses me. But looking back on it, I think that person was surer of herself, and is real to me because she is documented.

As juniors, it is so important that we step back and take a look at ourselves. And for God’s sake, not for the purpose of writing a college application. Because we can easily lose ourselves along the way. What are the things that I want? It is a simple question, but became harder to answer when constantly hustled into testing rooms for tests that I didn’t want to take, the scores of which people seemed to put a dollar sign in front of to measure one’s worth. I definitely made mistakes this year. But I do not see them as regrets.

I lost friends in the race to getting the things I want. I lost things I wanted trying to be a better friend. We have all been constantly tugged forwards and backwards towards this intangible finish line, for which there is no true marking to signal the end. I do not think I can look back on this year and say I am proud of myself.

What I do  feel is responsibility and passage. I made sacrifices and adult choices, became more independent. I did not cry nearly as much as I could have. I did not stop and look around; sometimes I just kept on moving and let some of the bad things pass by without coping.

And yet I loved every minute of this year. Because it challenged me to pin down who I am at the core, surrounded by such chaos. The fear of losing a friend over an argument on this very paper was one of my low points of the year, and I did cry then, but it forced me to see what I had done to get to that point. I had done things I was not proud of, but the moral is that I had to quickly realize what was important to me.

I want a snapshot of this person. I want to know that though I had to go through the numbing motions of junior year, this 17-year-old was still evaluating, opinionating.

I think we all owe ourselves that, whether it’s going to end up embarrassing us or not.