The beautiful lies of being a senior


Linus Kaechele

A picture that has nothing to do with this column and everything to do with how I’m feeling: confused, disappointed, and dreading my calc homework.

For this entire year, I’ve found something in my life to romanticize with the beauty of language. Whether it’s the tears I never shed for the senior year that never was or the tears I did shed for the friendship that almost wasn’t, I have found something to turn into a story—a column. It’s degrading to admit it, but I have exploited every horror that I’ve experienced in the past year by defacing it with pretty, little adjectives.

Because of this, I’m disgusted with myself.

I’m a writer, but I can never tell a story. I pride myself on losing the life lessons I’ve learned when I republish each retold story to The Central Trend; with every synonym that slips from my fingers and onto my keyboard, the beauty of life gets lost in translation. I have turned every fit of anger, sadness, and ruthless desperation into a column that makes someone say anything but sorry.

But, who says sorry in any circumstance that involves me talking about my senior year? Everyone. Literally, everyone. “I’m sorry” has replaced “unprecedented times” because people have stopped listening and started apologizing—for the year I’ve lost, the year we’ve all lost. 

I’m bitter, yes. I’m ungrateful, yes. But do you know what else I am? Compliant. A rule-follower. I wear my mask. I stay six feet apart. I don’t do the things I want to do anymore. I have broken every canvas in my mental gallery of memories only to watch people brag about the beauty of their artwork as I watch them party my senior year away.  

So, I’m done. I’m done making everything seem pretty. My life stopped being pretty the day I decided that my go-to mood would be sullen, and you know what? No one stopped me.

The columns I’ve written in the past six months have all been lies.

I’m not any of the emotions that I wrote about. Every feeling I’ve felt this year has been discredited by the words I’m sorry: the vapid response to my heartbreak and desolation, the empty words that pretend to replace a hug or even a kind gaze.

I have spent day after day after day on Zoom being told, “I’m sorry but this is just the way it has to be.” I have been spoon-fed lies through a computer screen, and I have vomited them out into every column I’ve published this year. I’m sick of these feigned apologies. I’m sick of the lies. 

Everyone stopped being sorry the moment this year was given up on. So few people tried, and in turn, everyone has watched the color die in my eyes. My learning has been accommodated for, but my happiness hasn’t. Every day, information gets lost in the dark, empty void within my mind: the place where practically every lesson has gone since last March. 

I want this nightmare to be recognized. I want just one day where someone says “let’s do something fun for a change.” The slow, torturous crawl of senior year has become insufferable. The (re)treats, dances, and traditions that made my goodbye worthwhile—worth anything—have been abandoned. I will remember my senior year by the uneventful, sad Zoom meetings that pepper every day.

Yet, from some delusional place within me, I always start my mornings with the thought that this cycle will be broken, the thought that one teacher will choose me over my grade. Not only do I want to be listened to, but I want to be believed. Maybe I can’t be cherished, maybe I can’t be valued—that’s okay.

But, oh how holy it would be to be believed.

It’s time I give up on my senior year, too. Although dreams will die because of it, at least people won’t. I’ll wear my masks; I’ll stay six feet apart; I’ll continue to abstain from doing what I want. This time, I’ll do it for future Linus, for future seniors. 

It’s time I stop trying for present Linus. So, I’ll write something pretty next week, and I’ll keep lying just like everybody else.

But, maybe someone will stop me.

Maybe someone will give me a sense of happiness that’s worth telling the truth about.