There’s a speck of something on one of he blades of my ceiling fan that I’ve grown quite intimate with over the last three months. It’s relatively nondescript, just a tiny dot. But somehow, even if I remember which blade it was on whenever I last turned my fan off, it finds a way to migrate to another one before I turn it on again at a later time. I have come to accept that my house is haunted by some weird demon that gets its kicks by opening and closing drawers when I’m the only one at home, but this … this is past my supernatural analysis pay grade.
I don’t know what this dot is. It could be the sliced remains of a bug, it could be a piece of dirt. It might not even be moving from blade to blade at all, but I swear, it mocks me as it spins around in circles. We’ve got a lot in common, that dot and I; we’re both revving our engines in neutral, looking for a way out of the cycle.
There’s no easy way to say it, so I’m just going to jump out of MetaLand: your senior year of high school is nothing more than a painful, drawn out, nine month slow burn that no amount of feigned mental stimulation can possibly overcome.
I can already hear the backlash to this: “oh boo hoo, you got into a college and you have to wait a little while, big deal.” And you know what? You’re absolutely right.
Complaining about having to continue to receive a higher level of education than most in the developing world could ever dream of having, while waiting to move on to a higher level that your parents (way more than likely) are generously funding is the textbook definition of a first world problem. It’s important to have some perspective on this “issue,” but at the same time, that doesn’t make it any less of a drag.
At the beginning, there is abundant fervor among the ranks. Everybody is ready to ring in the new school year as the kings of the hill. Some people create a Senior class Facebook group *gasp! This is so real now!*, and the consensus is that this year will rank among the best of our lives.
But then you actually go to school, and you’re reminded that you do, in fact, actually still go to the same school you’ve been going to for the previous three years. It’s nothing against the school or faculty, but it’s definitely a letdown after the ethereal high that comes from finally settling on a class slogan. (f14me on , was it?)
What makes it all worse is the constant reminders that after this year, you’ll most likely be in a totally different place with totally different people. It’s all anybody talks about, and you spend the majority of your free time putting together essays so that you can earn a spot in that magical, yet ambiguous land that’s on everybody’s mind. And then, whenever you decide where you’re going, it’s super exciting for about a week until you realize you still have to finish up your four-year sentence in your current correctional facility.
Then you have the mental freedom to focus on the little things in life, like specks on your ceiling fan, and how on earth it’s able to mobilize itself to get from one blade to the other while your sorry sack of flesh can’t even motivate itself to open up its government textbook. It’s a truly contradictory experience — working so hard over an extended period of time to be able to continue to learn next year, while at the same time loathing any and all forms of academic material.
There’s a line buried in the complex pentameters of Outkast’s 2003 smash hit “Hey Ya” that states, “nothing is forever.” Yes, it’s true, in just a little while, the entire subject of this rant will disappear in a single instant. We’ll all move on to the real world, or at least a version of that world when bells don’t tell you when it’s time to go to your next learning station.
You might recall that after that line, Andre 3000 says “then what makes, [love] the exception.” Well, when it comes down to it, what you take out of your senior year is not, despite what your “graduation goggles” might lead you to believe, a sum of your high school experiences.
At my fifth grade graduation, the principal said to us, “This diploma? It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a landmark. It’s what you do from here on out that really means something.” On a literal level, he was totally right. Your fifth grade diploma is nothing more than a one-way ticket to the worst three years of your life. But despite the pomp and flair of a high school graduation, my elementary school principal’s words of wisdom are easily applicable to the diploma I’ll receive at the end of this month.
Unless you committed a felony, whatever you did in high school gets flushed down the proverbial toilet as soon as you cross that stage. Everybody knows that, I think, but it’s all too easy, as a second semester senior, to rest on your laurels and go into cruise control. I know I have. However, I don’t speak from experience, but I can imagine that real life isn’t a cakewalk.
In a concluding summation, my final thoughts are that (see, your high school education is worth something if that made you cringe) life is a series of landmarks. I can’t tell you to take your graduation with a grain of salt, because I know I won’t. I can’t tell you not to get excited, because I know I will be. But, what I can say with absolute certainty from my high moral steed is that this is just the beginning. It wasn’t a breeze getting here, and the last pushes to the finish line have been halfhearted at best, but once all of your state mandated education is complete, you have a clean slate to start on. Take advantage of that.
I can say that because, well, I know I will.