This is it – the last Hollumn. The last time you will ever have to read (and get annoyed at) my opinions, and the last time I will ever write for the Tam News. As a senior on the brink of graduation, there are quite a lot of thoughts swirling around right now.
Thanks to the neverending slew of high school movies and TV shows that Hollywood churns out yearly, most incoming students tend to have a pretty strong idea of what high school is supposed to be like before they even finish 8th grade. Obviously we all know the media is lying when it comes to the random musical numbers in the hallway and “teenage” students who look like 25-year-old professional models, but there are other aspects that certainly seem to hold an ounce of truth. Parties, football games, prom, and tests that will make crying in the shower a regular habit, are all simply part of the quintessential high school experience we are taught to expect.
Most of my fellow members of the graduating class of 2015 have achieved all, if not at least the majority, of that experience. I, on the other hand, have not. In fact, I’ve always found myself blending – comfortably – into the faceless background of high school life. Although quite a few of my peers may know me as the loud, opinionated girl who occasionally fights with the teacher and writes snarky columns for the school newspaper, my in-class gregariousness has never translated to my social life. While other students were out partying with their friends on Friday nights, I was content to settle in with some Netflix and some tea, maybe with one whole friend if I was feeling particularly sociable, or even… two! And aside from the literal 15 minutes I endured at the homecoming game in my freshman year, I’ve never been to a Tam football game.
Now before anyone reading this starts to think, “Oh great, here comes one of those self-pitying special snowflakes who thinks they’re unique and cool because they didn’t do the norm in high school,” I would like to assure you that I wouldn’t have my past four years any other way. Not being popular has never been a soul crushing moment in my high school career. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the student graduating with me who did achieve that quintessential high school experience. I’m certain that all of us found satisfaction because we did what we needed to do to make ourselves happy. If anything, I would actually applaud all of these students on having clearly more fine-tuned social skills than me.
This same mentality applies to the future beyond Tam High. Just like high school, there are plenty of stereotypes and stigmas about what every teenager should be doing after they graduate. The media’s classic post-high school plan is a four- year run at a brand name college, filled with frat parties, sleepless nights, school spirit and countless club activities. For some of my peers, that sounds like a dream come true. For others, it might not be. If that’s the kind of experience you desire, the one you think will allow you to make the most of your time and feel the happiest, then by all means, go for it. But make sure that you’re doing it for you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in high school, it’s that life isn’t meant to be an instruction manual, a list of pre-set boxes that are just waiting to be ticked off as you progress from one experience to the next.
There are a few students in the Class of 2015 who aren’t following the traditional path, college or otherwise, and their pursuit of happiness is just as important and valid. For a long time throughout high school I wondered whether I was making the right choices about what I was doing. Maybe I should be going out more. Should I stop writing snarky columns about things people did that annoyed me that month (never!). Maybe I should be trying to do what the movies define as the quintessential experience. But I realized that doing those things wouldn’t make me happier or more satisfied with myself. I’m certain that most of my fellow graduating seniors, and even the Tam students still waiting for their own graduation, want the same pursuit of individuality for themselves. I’m not going to pretend to speak for my class’s desires like as if we’re all best friends, but I do encourage everyone to pursue things for their own benefit and not for an image or to follow a script. Do it because it’s what you want. Whether your happiness is found through a gap year on another continent, getting a job, a fun-filled four-year college run, or anything in between, it doesn’t matter. Just remember to never play the part of the actor, reading the script society and the media has given you – instead, pick up a pen and write your own. ♦