This was the battle cry for many a student here at East this school year and, like most phrases of its kind, it was used liberally before and during everything from chemistry tests to football games to MORP. As the phrase almost took on a tongue-in-cheek air, there was still a bit of truth left in it— have fun, make memories, push the limits without really getting in trouble. But no regrets? Really, none at all? Even as the last “z”s (where is the “z” in regrets, anyways?) rings in the air as the senior class of 20-lovin—I mean 2011—leaves the school, I still have my regrets from this year.
Cross Country: Love/Hate Relationship
My three-year affair with cross-country has steadily declined in both commitment and joy since freshman year. Whenever anyone asks me about it, I’m forced to retell the long odyssey that took me from Varsity freshman year to C-team junior year. About half the time, I regret not trying harder this last year—and half the time I regret even doing cross-country in the first place.
There’s no doubt that cross-country is so much more rewarding for the girls who work hard. And there’s a certain satisfaction in bringing up the rear for C-team. Each has its own culture and community, and each is great in itself. But I fit somewhere in between those extremes– on C-team but not completely lazy. I know that if I pushed myself harder during those fartleks (a type of running workout where you alternate running at a moderate pace and sprinting) and made it a priority, I could be pretty good at running long distance. Besides, how much worse could a 4k be than a 200 meter race?
Way worse. Actually, about 20 times worse
So much worse, in fact, that at the end of my race, I take on the typical cross-country pose: pale faced, eyes half closed, mouth open to suck in as much oxygen as possible, arms in a T-Rex pose in a feeble attempt to go as fast as I can. And at that moment all that’s going through my head is, “Why did I sign up for this? Is this somehow beneficial to my life? Is there some way that I can get out of running this race?”
I suppose I’ll look back on my four years of cross-country (because I’m doing it next year… why deny myself the joy of waking up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturdays?) at the end of my senior year with a certain fondness. But for now, I regret it.
When I missed all of my team games classes within the span of one week for AP tests, I knew that something was wrong. I gave up a good four hours of playing Ultimate Frisbee in order to complete 12 hours of AP hell.
As a sophomore, little did I know that signing up for English 11 AP, Calculus BC AP, Chemistry 2 AP and American History AP would be the end of any semblance of a social life that I hoped to have. Since October, my family’s living room has become an AP shrine, covered in textbooks by American History Professor Takaki, lists of thermodynamic constants and various literature packets. Not only did school take over my family’s couch, it took over my church life and often my friendships, and the mess drove my mom crazy.
At first it wasn’t so bad. Our first assignment in Chemistry 2 AP was to create our own element that it would tell the class a little bit about us. The nerdy chemist inside me went, “Pffft… this is supposed to be advanced chemistry? This class won’t be that hard.”
I was so, so sadly mistaken.
Not even including the fact that Chemistry 2 AP has turned out to be the most challenging class I’ve ever taken, this year I’ve had to do the most self-teaching because the material was so difficult. Yeah, I’d heard older kids talk about how hard junior year was. But I never really knew how much it would, well, suck. Not only was it physically exhausting because of lack of sleep, it was mentally exhausting just because of the sheer difficulty of work. On the other hand, I developed a fantastic sense of chemistry humor involving titrations. And Yoda’s jokes from AHAP were certainly entertaining: one time she tried to convince us that the Boxer Rebellion was actually a disagreement concerning which type of underwear Chinese men should wear– and that the government advocated the use of briefs because they would kill “the spermies” and reduce overpopulation.
Okay, okay—so I could’ve been more productive in the evenings. Henry Foster and I did spend a fair amount of our chemistry study groups first semester watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1“ trailers. But after you spend four hours doing thermochemistry packets, you tend to need your spirits lifted, preferably via YouTube. But to think about all that time spent doing AP work, not to mention studying for the AP tests and then to think about how many games of MarioKart I could play, or new recipes I could try, or (my personal favorite) more hours I could sleep.
Regrets? Well, getting a healthy amount of sleep would be nice. And being able to do my best in any one subject would be great, too. But I think I’d have even more regrets if I opted out of taking any of my classes. It was worth it, in a way, because I learned that knowledge really is more important than grades (Really! You can’t just cram and vomit for tests) and actually learned how to study—and how to do a lot of it.
I Should’ve Taught Pheebs More
Freshman year is one of the most awkward, frightening times of high school, at least in my experience. The few weeks—or months, depending on how much you care—before freshman Homecoming are nerve-wracking. Finding your way around East is a hassle. You constantly feel the need to carry all your books around with you. Which is why I wish I had prepared my little sister Phoebe, an eighth-grader, for what’s to come.
Part of the reason is because I won’t be around for three years of her high school career. Who knows what she could get up to while I’m at college? I mean, she already gets to stay out until 11:30—almost as late as I do on weekends (seriously, Mom?) and texts constantly—so much so that my friends’ younger sisters will know what we’re eating that night. Her communication habits and excessive tweeting as well as the number of friends she has are mildly disturbing, to say the least. For one, I’m worried she won’t be able to focus once she gets to high school. I’m a junior and I don’t think I have that much to tweet about. Although, as I admitted, I didn’t have much of a life this year.
Even though I’m not nearly as popular as “the Pheebs” is, I do have a smidgen of advice to pass on. Her antics are so endearingly familiar to me, even though she often steals my clothes for Homestead mixers. I recently found one of my favorite shirts hidden in her swim bag that she hasn’t touched for years. But I wish I could give her advice such as make friends with the teachers (it makes life easier for both of you) without sounding preachy. This is one of the only ways I can think of to show that I love her even though she drives me nuts.
And if there’s one thing that I could tell Pheebs, it would be to relax. Everything freshman year seems like the end-all-be-all of life. While friendships changing and trying new sports might feel painful and confusing and oh-so dramatic, it’ll be so different by the time senior year comes that it’ll be a distant memory, much like the time Phoebe cut my hair herself with scissors. I’m sure that by next year I will have learned from these regrets, even though they’ll feel so far away.
Pheebs, I hope you’re reading this.