Leaving high school

Leaving high school

To Adrienne, who keeps me sane when you’re 700 miles away.

To Jen, who keeps the memories alive.

The last year of high school zips by then suddenly you’re saying goodbye to friends you’ve known for years to go to a college on the other side of the country. It’s hard but exciting – what’s it like, though, for those who decided to remain in their hometown and go to a local campus – the ones who have to say good-bye and watch you go?

“We work hard for thirteen years of our lives, go through uphill battles, and constant torture for what? A lousy piece of paper.”
A quote I read off a t-shirt.

Since making the transition from high school to college, the one phrase I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “Are you excited?” The answer usually is a shrug or a “meh” coming from my mouth. The truth is I am not excited, I am rather disappointed and feel empty. Shouldn’t I be filled with glee now that I am one step closer to the ‘real world’?

Not if you are going to the local campus, and staying at home for college.

The truth is I miss high school. I used to be so bad at high school and finally got the hang of it, but way too late. I finally found one that was right for me and hung out with the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Now it is all just a distant memory, a closed chapter in my life as another is supposed to begin.

My mom said on my first day of senior year “This is your year… make it a good one, because it is going to go fast.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, that and it was 6 in the morning and I wasn’t awake yet. But I wish I could have listened, and I hate to say it but she was right as always. Walking the halls on the first day back I was bombarded with hugs from friends I hadn’t seen all summer, then I blinked…

And my year was about half over! And I was banging my head against my lab table in chemistry. The stress was on and I was having my fair share of meltdowns because of the pressure. Stress is the one thing you must get used to if you are going to survive their senior year. The pressure of grades and GPA’s to class ranks, college acceptances, and scholarships. Your guidance counselor becomes your best friend while they jam college pamphlets down your throat. Teachers load up the homework and give out never-ending projects. Quizzes and tests become more frequent and difficult as you find yourself letting out a scream in the middle of geometry.

By spring break college acceptance letters come out, and some dreams are crushed. Some realize the sheer costs is going to make their college dream a non-reality, while others just plain didn’t get in. Some celebrate and do a victory lap, others bite their nails as they wait to hear from their other choices. This is where a lot of people can crack and think their lives are over. The best thing you can do is just get to grips and move on. That is what I did… I came to the conclusion art school was way too expensive for a education I can get right here at home. I applied to the local campus of Kent State, I got in and they gave me a scholarship – and it was nice for awhile.

I did hesitate on my decision, as teachers always said don’t let cost let you down, apply for scholarships and grants. Easier said then done, you can only get so many scholarships for so much. Not everyone can get a free ride, or even a partial ride. So I didn’t think it was a bad choice to stay home, get free food, your laundry done, and no cost to it.

Nice, right?

Well I thought so too – at first.

The year dragged on and I found myself in a cramped hallway of the school wearing a silly cardboard hat, and a gown that made me look like a tent. Well at least I wasn’t alone, we all kind of looked pretty silly. The closest some guys would ever come to wearing drag. The hallway was roasting as they herded us like cattle in alphabetical order. I guess in 13 years we still can’t put ourselves in alphabetical order. Then the faint sound of pomp and circumstance rolled over the PA as I slowly moved up the hall. Cameras flashed, my mom cried. This is where it hit me… this was it, this was the end.

Afterwards people hugged and cried. They uttered those words “Keep in touch,” the easy goodbye without actually saying goodbye. Summer came and it all seemed like a blur, like it really never happened. I lived that summer to the fullest, staying up late and partying into the early morning. And then it was school just around the corner once more, but instead it was what me and my sister call “big girl school.”

I remember my friends shopping for dorm room necessities, matching hand towels, and microwaves. While I just watched and put my two cents in. It didn’t hit me then but I was soon going to be alone, stuck in my family house, all because I accepted a college offer on a local campus. I just took one trip to Wal-Mart and I was good to go.

Slowly people started to disappear and enter their new chapters of their lives. It seemed to me everyone was moving forward, while I was just standing in place, left behind.

So, now I’m at college. My friends have gone and started their lives away from home. While I sit sipping Fiji water at my computer typing this article. I get a email or myspace message from time to time from then telling me how they are doing. Then they ask how is everything at home, while I just sulk. My friend that is now in Georgia, and my other in West Virginia, try to keep me sane a much as they can. They try to reassure me I am not missing out, but I get a feeling I am.

School is a few days away and I am freaking out a lot, like major meltdown freakout. I guess I do get some of the college experience even though its 10 minutes from my house. I still get to spend the massive amounts of money on my books, and get thrown in a completely new environment with new people. That’s what my sister said while my friend in Georgia said: “Look at it this way, it is a lot of people’s first day too, and they will be just as lost as you.” She’s wise beyond her years, and always keeps my head on straight for me… I miss her a lot. That and she does have a good point I can’t argue with.

So I guess this whole high school transition is harder then I expected, even though my college is down the road from my high school. I guess it is just as hard as if I was moving away to college, but I am in the comfort of my own home. Looking at myself now and how I am freaking out so much, I kinda am glad I am at home. At least I have my mom to go freak out to, and my sister to smack me sane. Maybe I was always a little over-emotional, damn me for being one of those creative types!

So as I enter this year, a new chapter in my life, even though it isn’t in another state, or a city far away, I can try to make the best of it.