This story is over, but the series is not

The+cover+photos+of+some+of+my+favorite+stories+from+this+year.+That+girl+has+grown%2C+and+changed.+The+next+story+is+starting.

Ellie McDowell

The cover photos of some of my favorite stories from this year. That girl has grown, and changed. The next story is starting.

This story opened with an anxious girl who didn’t know how to express her feelings, and definitely didn’t think she could write. Now, that same girl is writing her last story.

I have written words I wish I could have told my younger self. I have written about how I don’t know who I’m going to be. I have written about my fear and anger after Oxford. I have written about how scared I am to grow up; about how badly I want to move to a small town; about how I’ve changed; about trying new things; about friends lost and found; about seniors who have changed my life; about how much I love love.

Now, I am writing a goodbye I have been putting off for as long as I could. I can’t put it off anymore.

The impending end to this chapter of my life is daunting. It’s been yet another year, and I still dread it. As I look ahead, I see so many lasts: my last marching season, my last time walking into room 139/140, my last homecoming, my last football game, and my last time stepping through the doors of the high school that has built me.

The girl who walked through those doors the first time is gone now. The girl who walked through those doors at the beginning of her junior year is lost too. The girl I see when I look in the mirror now has been through so much that I barely recognize her. She has started to grow into the young woman I have always wanted to be. She has learned how to express her emotions through the power of her words. She has found new ways to cope. She has finally started to learn how to put herself first.

That girl is sitting here, staring at a computer screen trying to figure out how to put into words how she feels about the ending of this story. The words I have written over the past year have been my only escape from my reality; the only thing that has kept me sane. The raw emotion I have poured into every single column has been my way of figuring myself out. Now, it’s over.

After today, my words will no longer populate the site every week. Never again will I post my own story on my Snapchat in the hopes that I’ll see my name on the “Trending” list in our daily meeting. Never again will I cry over the inability to find a review topic or an interview. Never again will I scramble to hit “Save as Pending” by 7 a.m. All of that is over. But what does that mean?

Where will I be a week from now with no story to post? I can answer that. I will be sitting at home, teary-eyed. I will be rereading every story that I posted.

Even now, as I look at my computer at a loss for words, every column I have ever written is open in the tabs lining the top of the screen. I have read them over and over again. My junior year will be fossilized by the algorithm. I will be able to open the site that houses metaphors for emotions I am too scared to express. I can forever see how I have grown.

My junior year will be fossilized by the algorithm. I will be able to open the site that houses metaphors for emotions I am too scared to express.”

As I read my columns chronologically, I see the growth. From my first story, posted before I was even a writer, to my most recent column—one of my best—about how hopelessly romantic I am, all I can see is growth. Growth as a person. Growth as a writer. That growth is something I never could have done alone.

To the people who pushed me to keep writing, I can’t thank you enough.

Mr. George, I asked you last year if I should take Writing for Publication. You told me that the deadlines are intense, but if I wanted to absolutely. I did. Did I miss deadlines? Absolutely. Am I glad I took the class anyway? More than yes. You pushed me to keep writing. You pushed me to breathe and realize who I am.

Alex, I didn’t know you until second semester. I regret every moment I spent sitting alone in this class, because now you are one of my best friends. I can’t wait to see how your writing grows. I can’t wait to continue to read and see how you grow up.

Cam, you told me you want to be a journalist. You’re taking a spot in this class, and I wish I could still be there to watch you grow. I just know you will be a phenomenal writer. You are an amazing person. Keep writing, Cam.

Now, the moment I’ve been dreading: my goodbye. My goodbye to this site. My goodbye to my junior year. My goodbye to the girl I’m leaving behind in my words. I’m leaving her behind because she’s all grown up.

This story opened with an anxious girl who didn’t know how to express her feelings, and definitely didn’t think she could write. Now, this story may be over, but that girl isn’t anxious anymore. Her words speak volumes, and she doesn’t bottle up her emotions so much.

This story may be over, but hopefully the next one will be just as good.

I’ll see you in chapter one.