Yesterday, I donned my white cap and gown, red stole, and silver magna cum laude cord. I had my name presented as I walked across the stage, shook a board member’s hand and received my diploma. I stood up with my fellow graduates and moved my tassel from right to the left, and exited Spring Lake High School for the last time in my life.
To put it lightly, high school was hard for me. Academically, I never had a problem. I breezed through the classes, maintaining a superior GPA with little to no studying and excellent test taking skills. I had my niche for English, and flourished in any class that had reading or writing involved. I made great relationships with teachers and other faculty members. But when it came to connecting with my peers, I never fared well.
Out of the nearly 200 students that graduated yesterday, I maintain contact with less than five of them. Although it is noted that I did graduated 7 months early, so life moves on and people change, I still returned for graduation with few connections. I never felt the need to have the most friends, be on the top of the food chain, or “run the school”, but coming from a place that prides itself on its small town, amicable community, I often felt disregarded.
I always felt ahead of the game in some ways; feeling more mature and prepared for the future than some of my peers. I left high school early to start college because I was ready—I realized that high school had nothing left to offer me. I was ready for a fresh start with new people and a new atmosphere. So far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that. But coming back to high school for graduation was something I wasn’t fully prepared for.
I had to return to the place that I associate with a lot of broken relationships, hurt, anxiety, and difficulty. I had to return to a sea of students so happy and high on life—something I already experienced more than half a year earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about graduation. I was looking forward to it. But coming back to the high school reminded me why I left—to find the real me with a new and fresh start.
I am grateful for the knowledge that I gained, for the few amazing relationships I have, and the teachers who inspired me daily. I am grateful that I could go to a high school that is passionate about college preparedness and exceeding expectations. I’m grateful for some of the acquaintances who could still muster kindness and humor, to make me feel welcomed at times when I felt pushed aside. I’m grateful that I made it to graduation day.
I went up to hug a friend after graduation and she said to me, “Who would have thought that we would make it through the worst 4 years of our lives?” That sums up high school for me. I had some wonderful times in high school, but my life was changing so much, and a lot happened to me and my family within those years, that it was hard to tackle maturing through life and dealing with the sometimes pettiness of high school–those years weren’t my best.
I made it through some of the worst years of my life and came out on top. I graduated early, got a head start on the rest of my life, and have cherished some of the memories that I will hold on to forever. I hesitate to say it’s been great Spring Lake High School, but in the end, I can accept that sometimes the good does outweigh the overwhelming amount of bad.
Graduation was something to check of the list of things to do—it was a loose end to tie up. In the midst of finishing my first semester of college, getting a job, and now officially graduating from high school, I’d say it has been a good 7 months. I look forward to plenty more in the future. And I wish everyone in the graduating class of 2016 all and only the best for your future.