Dear Incoming Freshmen,
It’s kind of cheesy to write this kind of a letter, but I don’t know how else to write a piece that somehow encapsulates my feelings of finishing high school. I can’t comprehend it. It brings me so many conflicting emotions – and all of them are really strong. I would start to cry. So I’ve just been avoiding it. Focusing on the practical things like actually being able to graduate – you know, feeble little things like that.
One thing I think I can do and am somewhat happy to do is write something of a preview of coming attractions for the next generation. The eighth graders of yesterday who will in just a few months be the freshmen of today. You are the future. We are.
When I look back on all the editorials I’ve written for The Rocket Press I’m struck by how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. I think the old adage is true, about the more things change the more they stay the same, but I feel like I understand the nature of its truth a lot more now. It’s not saying that because things change they stay the same. It’s merely stating the fact that as everything changes, so does everything stay the same.
I feel like an enormously different person than I was when I was just entering high school. And yet, I know that in some ways I’m the same person I was in eighth grade. Many things have changed. I’ve had experiences that are irreplaceable, relationships that have defined what a good human relationship should be. These experiences have changed me, but through it all I feel like my self has been constant.
This is all starting to sound all hippie-dippie cosmic-like, I’m aware of that, but it’s a difficult thing to talk practically about; the paradoxical nature of self, how it’s at once extremely fluid and yet remains constant throughout one’s entire life.
I think high school is a beautiful time because it’s a period of such rapid dramatic growth in one’s self. I look at my friends, who they were in freshman year compared to who they are now, and I’m just amazed. Change is relentless, unfailing, inevitable.
Change can be good and bad, and believe me you’ll have your fair share of both in high school. You’ll be betrayed, backstabbed, embarrassed, made to feel small, all that great stuff, but you’ll also be cherished, valued, accepted, and most importantly, loved.
We always hear about how high school is just four years of your life and when you look back it won’t be as meaningful than it is now, but personally I think that’s BS. I know I’m only 18 and haven’t lived that long, but I think that high school is one of the most precious, formative, lovely times of our lives. It’s also one of the most socially awkward, awful, worrisome, sorrowful times of our lives.
I guess what I’m saying is high school is the perfect metaphor for life. You’re thrown into a situation you didn’t really ask to be thrown into, with a bunch of other people, some like you, but most nothing like you. And then you have to get through it and deal with all the rubbish of practical and emotional existence. Some will take their situation and mold it like clay to be what they desire, while some will just give up and let the current take them where it will. I’ve been in both situations. I’ve felt excited about high school and seeing my friends, and I’ve felt like curling up in a ball in my room and not talking to anyone. I think that’s what high school’s about – experiencing adult emotions for the first time, and having to deal with the fact that we have no idea what to do with them. It’s not optimal. Neither is life.
But it is beautiful, I think, because in those adult emotions that we experience for the first time in high school, yeah there’s the yucky stuff like sadness, anxiety, depression, but there’s also the emotions that come to define the reasons humans have continued to live life: joy, peace, community, hilarity, and the all-encapsulating, life-defining one: love. Love is what gives us the will to get out of bed. Even when it’s finals week and you haven’t studied and your girlfriend just dumped you and you just want to scream at life for being so inconsiderate – there is love.
Love is what got me here. Among the many aforementioned extreme emotions I’m feeling about graduating, love is what they all derive from. There may be times during high school that you don’t want to feel love or feel like you can’t anymore. But you can. You always will be. That’s what makes us human. And looking back through high school, trying to contain the tears from the well of nostalgia, regret and loss, and looking to the future, the undeniable, terrifyingly real future, love is the one thing I have to cling to. Love is that constant I was talking about earlier, the part of the self that fuels both change and stability, what makes us us.
So I guess I would say just hold on to that, the hope of love. Know that I’m with you. Yours is the class that my late little brother, Addai, was a part of. A part of him lives in you, and in me, and in all of us. That part, that constant companion, is love. So as you start this scary, crazy, amazing, beautiful, ridiculously dramatic chapter of your life, just know that love will be your constant. For love, like change, is relentless, unfailing, and inevitable.
Signing off for the final time,