Senior Reflection: The worst four years of my life

Submitted Annelise Eppen

Annelise Eppen, Staff Writer

After I made my final college decision, a junior friend asked me whether high school was worth it. I thought about my answer to this question for a while. After months of a perilous, tear-filled application process, I had been rejected from nine out of 13 colleges, leaving me to feel pretty worthless. Then I thought back to everything that led up to this moment. There were the nights when I fell asleep at 3:00 a.m. with a textbook on my chest. There were anxiety attacks. There was the nagging fear that I was hopelessly incapable of functioning in the real world. In the end, had it all been worth it? Yes, and I believe it.

I don’t mean that high school was worth it in the sense that the information I learned in class prepared me for the real world. And I certainly don’t mean that the physical and emotional hell I put myself through was worth the good GPA or class rank. Still, I feel as though the high school experience was necessary in my transformation from a naive child to a somewhat less naive adult. As I struggled, I came to realizations about myself that I now consider vital to my personal philosophy.

Only through negative experiences did I learn what I want for the future of my education and life. My anxiety about tests forced me to confront the fact that grades are not indicative of my intelligence. My disdain for rubrics taught me that I like to create quality work, not merely check off boxes. My lack of sleep taught me that I must prioritize my own well-being. The hard work I put into every assignment taught me that not everything is worth my best effort. My disillusionment with the significance of numerical and monetary success taught me that the success I aim to achieve is emotional rather than tangible. And my realization that the process of memorizing, regurgitating, and promptly forgetting the information I was learning taught me that I crave learning for learning’s sake.

At the end, I can only be grateful for my high school experience. Had I not pushed myself, I never would have forced myself to step back and reconsider my values and priorities. Had I not scrutinized the flaws of today’s education system, I would not possess this strong sense of morality and awareness of my own interests.

I know that many of you loved high school and will remember these four years as some of the best years of your life, but many of you won’t. If you’re like me, you had a rough time during high school trying not only to survive a barrage of work, but also to figure out who you are. You probably questioned your abilities, beliefs, and self-confidence. You might look back at awkward moments, a minimal social life, questionable fashion choices, and insurmountable stress wondering what it was all for. You’re probably excited to move on to bigger and better things, but scared that the next four years will be no different.

To that, we must consider how much we’ve grown personally since the start. While some qualities may not have changed, our understanding of ourselves and our place in this universe has. You’ve developed your own beliefs. You understand your strengths and weaknesses. You know what makes you happy. Together, we’ve done quite a bit of figuring out.

I hope that these four years of high school were the worst four years of our lives. I don’t say this with contempt, but with full confidence that every one of us now has the ability to make the next years of our lives even better.