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The “lasts” of junior year

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One half-day. That’s all that I have left of my junior year. After what has felt like months of a neverending roller coaster of calamitous agony and empowering growth, I have one half-day left. One half-day, and then it’s the beginning of the “lasts”: the “last first day of high school,” the “last school picture day,” and the “last first football game.” All of these “lasts” leave me with an abiding feeling of nostalgia. I would consider junior year itself a “last.” At least for me, junior year has been a year of tremendous growth. Through moments of hardship, I have realized that there are a few “lasts” that I am actually eager to leave behind, and these “last” moments are ones that have honestly shaped me into the person that I am right in this moment.

This year, I have really come to the realization that people and things are not forever. You never know when you will have a “last moment,” whether it be your “last” time seeing a specific person, my “last” time writing a practice essay for AP Lang, my “last” time staying after the bell rings in Mr. George’s room, or even my “last” official TCT class. As cliche as it sounds, life is short. One school year is just a small portion of this inevitable life we live. It’s important to cherish these moments while they last because, as I said before, you never know when one of them might be your “last.” And this year, I personally feel like I have had a lot of growth in this area. I’ve noticed that moments are temporary, and whether they be good or bad, they don’t last. The painful moments are temporary, and the ecstatic, exciting moments are as well. It’s important to cherish them because now that it’s the beginning of these “lasts,” I, being my nostalgic self, am appreciating these moments as much as I can.

I have also come to the realization that high school is all about experiences. Oscar Wilde once said that “to live is the rarest thing, most people just exist.” High school is about surrounding yourself with people who make you happy and people who make the limited amount of time we have together worth it. High school is about experiencing things that you can look back on and remember for the rest of your life. High school is about living and not just existing. If you know me, you know that I am typically a social person. However, it wasn’t really until this year that I began to feel comfortable in my own skin. I think that it wasn’t until I experienced a plethora of challenges and hardships that I truly lost my social anxiety and began to step out of my comfort zone. In the past few months, I have talked to people that I never talked to before and have put myself in situations where I can learn and try something new. Now, I can’t imagine my life without some of the people that I have in it. And since our time together in high school is so short, it’s important to truly and fully live. Live through new experiences, live through meeting random people, live through stepping out of your comfort zone, and not just existing.

And above all, I have learned that it is okay to let go. It’s okay to accept these “lasts” and know that better things are coming. These “lasts” are memories that will forever stick with me. Last weekend was my very “last” time performing with the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company. Next year, my school schedule allows me to spend about 6-7 hours a day dancing with a professional ballet company. My job contract was renewed, and this summer, I am spending five weeks at a ballet intensive for another advancement to my career. And although it was my “last” performance with this family I have grown to love, next year is an exciting time with things just as amazing to come.

Junior year has had a prodigious number of “lasts.” And as most people know, I spend too much time reminiscing about the past and overthinking “what could have happened” and “what I wish could have happened.” But really, junior year has taught me that it is okay to have these “last” moments. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be nostalgic, and it’s okay to be hurt. No matter what happens, something just as wonderful is on the way. These “last” moments are moments that can define and shape us in many ways. Yes, junior year was stressful, and yes, there were moments of junior year that I don’t want to remember, but what I have learned is that my junior year was a time of growth; I can credit that all to these important “lasts.”

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