Today marks my first day as a second-semester senior. For years, I’ve gazed longingly at the 12th graders, wondering how great it must be to blow off a huge assignment or not attend their least favorite class for weeks on end. I envied how easy it was for them to put forth a total lack of effort for their final semester of high school, without a care in the world. And now here I am. College applications are over and done with, and all that’s left is to sit back and watch my unexcused absences rack up.

It sounds like the dream. That’s what I always thought as an underclassman. But now that it’s me, I’m faced with a much harsher reality. My grades still matter, at least somewhat, to most of the colleges I’ve applied to. My interests and personality have developed since my days as an underclassman and many of my classes are actually something I look forward to. For me, being in my final semester of high school is really a cold reminder that everything and everyone I’ve ever known are about to change drastically — both an exciting and frightening concept. For the first time, the number of days I have left with my best friends seems very limited. I’m unsure what the future holds for any of my relationships — with my friends, my girlfriend, my parents, my brother. Such a fundamental change to my life is bound to have compounding effects on everything I find familiar. The more I think about it, the more I just want to stay a high school senior forever and not deal with the horrors of moving on.

But that’s not the way life works. We will always be moving to the next stage of our lives, whether we like it or not. I realize that the reason I feel so comfortable right where I am is that I’ve mastered the stage of life that I’m in right now. My important high school classes are completed. My college applications are submitted. My friend group is supportive and fun and I’m comfortable with them. I could continue being a high school senior forever without doing any work whatsoever. No effort, no discomfort, and no growth. It may look appealing on the outside, but this is the very reason why it’s time for me to move on to new things. It’s not comfort but discomfort that produces personal growth that will develop my identity and relationships.

Looking through this point of view, the scary things about leaving high school fade away and are replaced by the excitement and promise of an uncertain future. I look at the endless possibilities of my future with intrigue, rather than apprehension. My second senior semester won’t be the relaxingly unmotivated time that I thought it would, but instead full of enthusiasm and drive to reach the next level of my life: adulthood.

Graphic by: Nadia Kao

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