As senior year begins, my teenage years are slipping through my fingers

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My friends and I throughout the past 4 years

 I have never been the type of person to take life for granted. I try to display my gratitude in multiple ways, but I never knew that the gratitude would blind me from the reality of my teenage years.

While I was trying to live in the moment and be grateful, I didn’t realize the immense amount of time passing by. The past three years of my life have raced by in record time as if they didn’t even happen, yet not only has time passed by, but I have also grown up without an ounce of realization.

Freshman year, I walked in the front doors of the high school and saw hundreds of new people, faces I didn’t recognize, and people who looked and seemed much older and more mature than me. I sat down in a large circle in my sixth hour that day, Writing for Publication, which was the only class I had that had people from every grade in it. Anxiety coursed through my body as we each introduced ourselves. I felt as though I couldn’t move or speak because I was surrounded by people who all seemed like they had their life together, and as a fourteen-year-old, I was not able to digest that foreign feeling. 

I was surrounded by people who all seemed like they had their life together, and as a fourteen-year-old, I was not able to digest that foreign feeling. ”

I look back on that moment and notice how much I have evolved, because as I sat in that circle again on the first day of senior year, introducing myself to my sixth hour, but now as a senior—as one of the people I was so envious of—I don’t feel that horrid feeling of worry welting up inside my body. I look around at the multitude of freshmen in my class who could be in the same position I was in three years ago: quiet, shy, and unknowing of what fun fact they should share; I sympathize with them. I wish I could tell them that things will change for the better, but I know if someone had told me that three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them.

Sophomore year was a blur of online and in-person learning as I tried to refresh my brain on all the information I lacked from freshman year’s quarantine. That was the year I cautiously learned how to public speak without shaking, and it was the first time since I was a kid that I didn’t spend sleepless nights worrying about a three-minute presentation. 

The process of overcoming some of my greatest fears and being tossed around, never knowing if I will be in school or online, was one of the trickiest times that to this day, I try to block out of my memory, but appreciating what it taught me nonetheless. 

Junior year, I sat at a random table in my AP Language and Composition class, three other girls joined me, and that was the initiation of some of the best friendships I have ever made. Last year taught me a lot about who I am and about how who I spend my time with doesn’t define me. I refer to junior year as my social year. I took the time to try to branch out and converse with people I had always been too shy to get to know.

Here I am, senior year, seventeen years old, reflecting on the past and wondering why I don’t feel any older, but still acknowledging that I have flourished through the ups and downs of high school. In those moments, I thought I was expressing my gratitude throughout my high school experience. I now realize I was too caught up in the moment to stop and take a second to genuinely look back and be appreciative of the little moments that changed me for the better, and molded me into the person I am my senior year. Although I may not feel as mature and all-knowing as I thought I would, I doubt the people I was envious of during my freshman year felt that way either.