By Daisy Bolin
Dear future me,
If you are out there, show me. Let me know that all the stress will dissipate and all of this work will be worth it. It’s May of junior year and I feel like a quilt of patches — extracurriculars, grades and testing – sewn together by extreme exhaustion and inevitable stress.
For almost the entire year I have been held hostage by my resume. Feeling the pressure to seem as enthused and motivated on paper as I am in person, I feel guilty every moment for not trying harder. I devote every last second until I shut my eyes for my night nap (it’s not really sleep anymore) to researching colleges, managing my grades for a good GPA, battling the science section of the ACT and making money to have in college.
The life-changing decisions I have to make in the next year loom over me and taunt me each time I lay down to watch Can’t Buy Me Love. It doesn’t help that six new emails from colleges pop up in my inbox every day.
I feel compelled to spend part of my day thinking about my future. Because yes, “everything will be OK” in the end as my parents always tell me. But will it be what I want?
I don’t know how I’m going to distinguish myself in one 200-400 word essay, I don’t even know how I’m supposed to go about applying for college. College. Think about it, it’s the first real turning point in my life – and I have to get someone to recommend me for that in a letter? Gosh I hope I’ve been nice enough.
Then I think about the fact I have to face rejection – probably a lot of it too. Beyond that, I don’t know where I will curl up with a book in bed each night or who I will call to grab lunch or how I will be cheered up from a long day without my kitten to lay with or my brother to make me laugh.
They say the biggest fear is fear of the unknown and I finally understand what it means.
Junior year isn’t just preparing for the unknown – college. It’s taking AP or IB classes and participating in sports and newspapers and social lives and family time. So many pieces of our lives are suddenly inspected by professionals from our junior year. Every thing we are involved in becomes important in determining whether each extracurricular and achievement is worthy of the acceptance letter. I’ve lost sight of what I enjoy versus what I’m doing out of obligations.
My exhaustion from the stress of being at StuCo by 7:00 a.m., doing timed-writings in English class and making it to nannying on time creeps its way into everything I do and suddenly I find myself not even enjoying things I love. I have a whole other year to go and I’ve been drop-kicked several times already.
Filling out term packets get in the way of friendships. College research replaces watching movies with family. Everything down to eating dinner has become another task on one of many to-do lists.
In the beginning I felt as though I’d never been more productive in my life – however, I realized one mind and body can’t and shouldn’t withstand so many moving gears at one time especially for so long. I wish I wasn’t reaching for the end of junior year, but I am.
The dark shadows under my eyes are like gaping black holes on my face. The knots in my shoulders from crowding over my homework at 1:00 a.m. have never been tenser. I’m losing my patience, Junior Year. I feel as though my patches and pieces are slowly unraveling. I’m too tired to sew them back up and too stressed to care too much. But there’s just two weeks left.
Future self, if you were ever thinking about sending a sign that it’s worth it, now is the time.
Stressed out me
To my junior year self,
I know school is the absolute last place you want to be right now. I know spending almost a month more walking through the front doors at 7:40 a.m., knowing your day is filled with in-class English essays, endless AHAP reading and physics worksheets, makes you want to sleep until June.
I know it seems like junior year has lasted an eternity, and you feel like you’ve aged more than Barack Obama in his first term, but you’re almost done.
Think about it in portions; high school is only four years – that’s 16 quarters. You only have five out of 16 left. That puts it into perspective, right? And those last four quarters will be the best time of your high school experience — even though there are aspects of next year that are daunting.
Senior year really is one of, if not the, best year of high school. I mean, why do you think it’s the center of almost every high school movie’s plot? It’s special — and, yeah, I’ll admit that’s cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Let that be your light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel that is junior year.
In the next 12 months, you’ll make decisions that will set you on the path for your adult life that range from where you choose to apply, to your major and your roommate. And while that may make you want to run to the nearest bathroom and puke, you have to admit it’s more than a little exciting.
During junior year, you’ve probably heard the phrase “the college process” more times than you’ve heard McKinney say that “it’s always great to be a Lancer.” And through that infamous “college process” there will be lows. You HAVE to expect that. There is nothing that’ll alleviate the sting of your first rejection letter. You’ll feel like you’re being broken up with before you’ve even started the relationship. I mean why did they even send you emails encouraging you to apply if they were just going to reject you?
But the only thing to do is to take it in stride. Mentally flip them the bird and mourn that relationship for no longer than five minutes because it’s just like the classic breakup line — it really is them, not you. That wasn’t where you were supposed to end up, and you wouldn’t want to go to such a ludicrous place anyway.
Even though you’ll hate every minute you spend doubting and questioning where you want to go, it really is all part of the process. More times than you can count, you’ll make a decision only to change it the next day.
And no, you’re not a complete mess if you still don’t know where you’re going by April of senior year. You’ll figure it out eventually and that moment when you finally realize where your home will be for the next four years will make all those anxiety filled moments like a distant dream.
But senior year is also so much more than just preparing for college. At times you’ll be so over high school, you’d be willing to run the hundreds of miles to your college campus, but I can’t say enough how important it is to not wish it away.
From the end of junior year to the end of senior year so many lasts happen: your last Lancer Day, sports season, homecoming game and senior prom. And experiencing it alongside not only your best friends, but all your classmates, makes you realize just how real the Lancer family is. You’re all about to embark into “the real world” together, and the nerves and excitement that come with it only strengthens that bond.
And as May of your senior year approaches, try not to be surprised when you realize just how much you’ll miss high school and that you might be a little scared to leave in August. Because you’ll start to see not just how fun high school was, but how experiencing it as a Lancer is effing awesome. Sorry, not sorry.
So 17-year-old Claire, I believe in you. You’ve got less than a month left of your junior year and then you can finally start sleeping again. The next year of your life will be filled with more decisions, surprises and memories than you could ever anticipate and finishing this year is the catalyst for all of it.
Your older, and (hopefully) wiser self,