In fact, while you read this, I'll probably be out of my graduation ceremony, though I might still be in it. I might be in the middle of delivering this speech:
High school is a surreal experience. We enter these woods, just out of middle school, just barely finished being everyone’s elder, and suddenly we’re the young ones again. We see around us people who are already fretting over college or career, who are nearly out of the woods we have only just entered. We see old friends drifting from us or find ourselves drifting from them as we each find new interests and lessons. Now we’re there, coming out the other edge of these woods, again so old and so soon to be so young. Now friends aren’t just drifting apart; some friend we’ve had is going across the country, or we are. We won’t just be yelling at each other across dark woods; we may be shouting across stormy oceans. Skype and Facebook and Tumblr will help, but it is always easier to forget each other when we don’t have to see each other every day.
This is the moment when we all look back, to that first day we stepped on campus, or on the football field, or on stage. Freshman year seems yesterday and forever ago. Just yesterday that we stepped into these woods, forever ago that our life didn’t somehow revolve around what comes next: college applications, or job applications, or service applications, or wondering *sharp breath through teeth*—Did I make the cut?
Back then, forever ago, yesterday, the seniors were getting stressed about the same things we just went through. That one SAT test they hadn’t taken in time. A huge paper in English class. A mathematics test in something our parents didn’t understand. Juggling extracurriculars with academics. We were going through the woods, sometimes seeing perfectly and walking confidently, sometimes stumbling over tree roots in the dark, sometimes with only the next few feet visible by a torch-bearer, by a friend or a sibling or a parent or a teacher. Wherever we were, however we walked, we’re out of those woods. Now, we’re somewhere much clearer, and perhaps even more intimidating. We can see we’re entering another forest , but we can’t see the forest’s end from where we are. We have to go on faith, leaving torchbearers behind. So out we step.
And to my fellow graduating class of 2012, remember: Whenever it seems like the world is ending, it isn’t. We’re just taking over.
Which is the last speech I will write as a high school student, though not the first. I may be listening to one of the last speeches I will hear as a high school student. Regardless, if you are reading this close to the publish date, I'm going through a last or a first--last breakfast, first dinner; last day, first night; last song, first conversation.
I say goodbye as a last, and shall greet you next post as a first. See you on the side opposite, readers.