It’s college application season. Can’t you tell? Just a quick glance at the seniors milling around the jungle reveals it all. There is a bountiful sampling of just about every mood in the book: excitement, exhaustion, frustration, determination, and everything else in between. Sometimes I feel like two different people: one that is joyfully anticipating all of the hallmarks and milestones of my last year at Wilton High School, the other, a more introspective self, contemplating more adult-like concerns.
Perhaps this is the natural segue that all students eventually experience. One minute, I am a high school senior, anticipating the festivities of Spirit Week, the wave of blue-and-white decked seniors overtaking the halls, and our final Homecoming game. The next minute, I am a prospective college student, staring intently at my computer screen poring over questions like “What enrages you?” and “Describe a problem you’d like to solve.” My mind is in a perpetual tug-of-war between the normal stirrings of a high school senior, and the larger, more serious questions that I am being presented with every day. These questions require reflection and a clear sense of one’s values, convictions, and beliefs. Of course, we all want to answer as honestly, thoroughly and intellectually as possible, but it’s a tall order to ask a teenager to sum up questions of this depth in 650 words or less! While it can be really exciting to think about what the future may hold, it is also really scary to be 17 years old, having grown up with safety nets all around you, and be presented with the reality of making some colossal decisions these next few months.
Today I took a step back for a moment to listen in more closely on a conversation I was involved in with my peers, and here’s what I heard: We ladies were enthralled in an intense discussion over how damaging hair straightening and highlighting can be, and how we were all so naïve during freshman year thinking that daily pin-straight hair was worth the loss in quality of the mane. I turned my attention to the guys behind us who were having an intense debate over football loyalties. Ahhh, the joys of everyday concerns! On a Friday afternoon in late September, yes, sometimes all we seniors really need is to decompress and engage in conversations about the topics that keep us young and connected. Then on Sunday morning, we will open up the Common App and reflect upon how accepting one’s natural hair texture has ushered in a transition into adulthood. Finally, a solid topic for my 650-word masterpiece!
The coexisting concerns that seniors face can feel polarizing at times. In my few short weeks as a senior, I have come to find that compartmentalization is the name of the game. We are in the midst of the most dynamic, carefree time of our young lives, yet we are coincidentally presented with larger, adult-like decisions, concerns and ideas … some of us are bound to start experiencing mood swings, hot sweats, and panic attacks. Of course, these are the very topics on which parental self-help authors advise. “Yes! Your Teen Is Crazy” has graced the bookshelf at my own home for several years now (thanks, Mom), and it is finally starting to make sense why (but I’m still not sure why you needed it when I was 13!). In these few months of absolute mental anarchy, we seniors must remember that the joyfully youthful moments of this year will keep us grounded, and the arduous, introspective undertakings will launch us into our futures.
Parents, I promise you all, come April, your seniors will return to the joyful, lively kids you have loved and supported thus far. Seniors, we have a balancing act to negotiate over the next few months. Let’s keep our positive energy and remember that our experiences here have shaped us and have prepared us for wherever our next adventure takes us. Wherever we land, we are sure to “bloom where we are planted.”