As I type this, it’s May 2, 2019, a day I never imagined would grace my calendar. I am wearing the colors of a college I can confidently say will be my next home, with a sense of assuredness and excitement I never thought would replace the era of nerve racking decision making. I am slouched deep into one of the Warrior blue chairs in the senior space, the “jungle,” seats that in years prior I would longingly gaze toward as I hugged the wall and rushed to my classes, never imagining that it would one day be my turn to sit there nonchalantly.
Wilton High School’s College T-shirt Day marks the definitive turning point for many high school seniors. A long journey of standardized testing, resumes, impossible writing supplement word limits, waiting, and so much patience finally ultimating in a day of color, laughter, and relief.
Most of high school, and arguably life, we spend waiting for the next thing; always looking ahead instead of taking joy in where we are. Whether it be the next test, the next vacation, or the next decision, most of the time our heads are far into the future, planning and worrying, distracting us from the beauty of the present moment.
So much of my energy these past few months went into envisioning different futures. Would I be up north at a small school? Or should I be down south, immersed in politics and busy city life? I developed tunnel vision, only focusing on thinking about where I would belong next that I forgot to appreciate the amazing community I fit into right now.
Looking around at my classmates, bearing the shirts that symbolize their futures, as they pose for pictures in the halls, I am overcome with a feeling of pride and joy for what we have accomplished.
We grew not only into a new future, but into ourselves.
So though it is easy to think about the endings to come, or the futures in the distance, I am choosing to appreciate the present. Taking absolute joy in arriving to this destination that once seemed so far off, with some of the best, most deserving people at my side. Relishing in the feeling that proved it was, indeed, all worth it.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” So many of my passions have been informed by the activities, experiences, and people I have encountered in this town. Each experience has helped define me for the future, bringing me to this place in time. I found my love for stories through helping backstage Wilton Children’s Theater, which led me to a job this summer assistant stage managing. I’ve had some of the most honest and enriching conversations driving through back roads with friends or sitting in these blue seats, conversations that have driven me to march, act, and study areas. Opportunities like this, writing for Warrior Words, which over these past eight months has encouraged me more and more to pursue journalism as a career.
Sitting as a senior right now, bearing that title as proudly as I can for my final weeks, I am finally appreciating the wonderful freedom that comes from completing something, surrounded by people you love, in a place you are proud to be a part of.
Thank you, Wilton, for pushing us through to the finish line. Thank you for allowing us to define ourselves. And thank you, for the beautiful present.
Lily Kepner is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.