The Harbinger Online

Unquantifiable: Pauline Werner

I graduate in nine days and I’m tucked into bed at 1 p.m. I’m wearing a dirty T-shirt, ready to take the nap I’ve been looking forward to for three days. I try to quiet the hum of everything I’ve crammed into my brain in the last 36 hours so I can get some sleep.

Laying on my back, I stare at a backlit keyboard and a blank Google Doc titled “pauline’s senior column??”

So I count backwards, through years, issues and Internal Assessments in an effort to force high school to end itself in a neat little epiphany. It doesn’t. Of course not.

All I can come up with is the obvious: I’m 18 years old, my IB math test starts in 16 hours, I’m about to finish my forty-eighth Harbinger and I have a senior column to write.

I can try quantify my time at East all day long — four years, six IB tests, three ACTs, 48 issues, three trips to Dallas, two diplomas. But much to my chagrin, I can’t quantify the parts of myself I found along the way, and the way it feels to know that I’ve found my place.

I’ll confess — I didn’t join Harbinger out of some innate passion for journalism. I wasn’t even good at it. I handed in my application for staff writer after getting a C on the Journalism 1 final because I needed to, because I needed a place.

I was 15, and I didn’t know who I was — if you’ll excuse how melodramatic that sounds. I came to East a soccer player. Then I saw my high school soccer career end through tear-filled eyes before it could start when my name didn’t show up on the team roster.

I remember feeling like I was falling out of my place in the world, but Harbinger caught me. I found myself among the stacks of paper, dirty keyboards and mismatched office chairs that would become my second home. The Harbinger took my hand and told me that what I wanted to say mattered, that I didn’t need to keep trying to blend in.

My first story was a truly terrible A&E events preview, but I tore open the issue anyway just to see my name printed above it. I started to revel in the process of self-improvement. Getting back a draft from Tate torn to shreds didn’t feel like a failure so much as a new beginning.

I was looking for an identity to attach myself to when I had none.Instead found a group of people that rejected a group label and followed their own passions — and encouraged me to do the same. I ate from countless paper plates in the fifth floor hallway, I put off transcribing interviews just like everyone else and I wrote stories that I believe truly mattered. And you can bet I cursed the Harbinger’s very existence on a couple stress-filled nights.

Now it’s about to end, or so the calendar would have me believe. My name now tops the staff list, I have six more IB exams, a stack of graduation party invitations on my desk and I’m about to go to my forty-eighth and final deadline. My exhaustion goes bone-deep and I get the feeling that the bags under my eyes will never go away.

Unfortunately I don’t have a snappy one-liner to make you think I have it all figured out. I don’t. I’m not the polished, know-it-all senior I thought I’d be. I’m still in bed, deciding whether or not to watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” before heading to the library. I guess all I have at the end of my senior year are my memories and feelings, haphazard and disorganized as they might be.

So as I get closer to my last words as a Harbinger kid, I want to use this last byline to lay my high school years at this paper’s feet, for opening so many doors and shoving me through so many more.

Follow by Email

Comments are closed.

Pauline Werner

Senior Pauline Werner is the print head copy editor for the Harbinger. She enjoys musicals, wearing sweaters and learning new things. She is also allergic to cats. Read Full »

Turning the Tide

Revisiting Lancer Day



Who is East's Superfan?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Our Latest Issue

What Should We Cover Next?