To the upperclassmen, you are my inspiration


Lauren Brace

A collage of some of my favorite memories with upperclassmen

“What will we do when you’re gone?” Tara asked.

“What do you mean?” Katie laughed, as her adorable giggles bounced through the hallway. 

“Once you graduate, what will we do? Make friends with freshmen?” 

“Well, that’s what I did,” Katie smirked in response, remarking on the irony of her sophomore friend’s question. 

And now, as a junior, that’s exactly what I did too.

I am forever indebted to the people who chose me—in a sea of underclassmen—to toss a life jacket to and save me from drowning in the harsh waters of high school. Thank you for introducing yourself, seeing the overwhelmed face of a freshman Lauren Brace and teaching her how to take life one step at a time.

You taught me that it’s okay to not be okay. Everyone has the right to cry, complain, and rant about even the smallest problems in their lives. Our worst days don’t need to be plastered together with facades of effervescent smiles, giving a false truth to others damages the truth that you give to yourself.

One can only maintain balance for so long until the constant pressure overpowers one side of the scale—causing us to falter, even for a brief moment.

You taught me that even the most perfect people could never be perfect without their flaws. One can only maintain balance for so long until the constant pressure overpowers one side of the scale—causing us to falter, even for a brief moment. Every setback is an opportunity: not to hit the ground running and exhaust yourself even further, but to take a moment to pause and reflect on the matters in life far greater than minor missteps. 

You taught me to cherish all the mini moments of a day: the quick “hellos” passing friends in the hall, the feeling of pride after achieving an academic goal, and the little bursts of laughter that I cling to—floating around in a brief bubble of joy until it pops.

You taught me that the end of a theater or band practice isn’t the best time of day because it marks the end, but rather, the beginning of a thrilling 15 minute journey: the ride home that I forced you to take me on. Those car conversations are the moments of my freshman and sophomore year that I constantly replay in my head, and I would give anything to relive.

Belting Adele’s “All I Ask” and spilling so much tea that our clothes were splattered with silly complaints and opinions whose significance completely faded the next day. Together, we jammed out to our marching band music and envisioned the splendor of every marching set. 

In those car rides, you bequeathed your knowledge about the highs and lows of being a teenager in the 21st century. I am so fortunate to have been granted the enriching experience that you gave me.

Thank you for all the laughs backstage, the smiles across the football field, and the praise that not only made me feel seen but also that my efforts truly mattered. Thank you for yelling my name as if it were the belting climax of your favorite song. Thank you for the knowing looks across the room. Thank you for being unequivocally you. 

But most of all, thank you for taking my hand and leading me to the correct door—opening my eyes to a world of possibilities. You showed me all that high school has to offer and that the most valuable thing you can take away from it is the love from the people you surround yourself with.