The beautiful lies of being a senior: part two

Through+thick+and+thin%2C+my+calc+homework+has+always+been+there+for+me.+In+a+year+with+so+little+permanence%2C+it%27s+nice+to+have+at+least+one+constant%E2%80%94even+if+it%27s+homework.++

Linus Kaechele

Through thick and thin, my calc homework has always been there for me. In a year with so little permanence, it’s nice to have at least one constant—even if it’s homework.

I woke up at 8:30 on a Sunday morning by choice. I got a perfect score on my calculus test—yeah, like 100%. I finished a book for my book club long before I needed to. I deleted Instagram and TikTok. I studied for my upcoming Spanish test for an hour and a half before I even picked up my phone this morning. 

I told my therapist I’m proud of myself, and I meant it. 

I have been given so many reasons to feel happy, and it worked. I’m happy! I’m happy enough to break the sacred rules of The Central Trend and use an exclamation point in my writing. I’m happy enough to do my homework before checking Snapchat in the morning. I’m happy enough to meditate before reading before going to bed—at a sensible time, too. 

I am just happy, in the purest sense of the word. 

This year has been unspeakably hard on all of us, and it’s objectively been harder on others than it has been on me. Yes, I’ve lost my senior year. Yes, I’ve experienced inordinate amounts of stress, hopelessness, and disappointment. Yes, I’ve worked at a fast-food restaurant for an entire pandemic with customers who don’t always treat me like a human being.

But, I’m lucky. I haven’t lost a close friend or family member to the virus. I’m not a healthcare worker who has to put their life on the line day after day after day. I’m not a kindergartener who is learning how to read on Zoom. 

Though I don’t always have a reason to be happy, I always have a reason to be grateful. 

This year, I’ve learned the hardest lesson of all: cliche sayings are cliche for a reason. I have spent too many nights talking to my mom about how upset and frustrated I am, and she would always respond in the way I knew she would: telling me exactly what I needed to hear even though I didn’t want to hear it. She told me I needed to fight for my own happiness. She told me that my life isn’t miserable. She told me the truth.

Though I don’t always have a reason to be happy, I always have a reason to be grateful. ”

But, I didn’t listen. Like the majority of teenagers on planet Earth, I had this sick and twisted idea that I was different from everyone else and that no one could understand how I was feeling. I isolated myself with the intent of finding identity in my sadness. 

But, I’m done with that now. I’ve learned that all the cheesy sayings I’ve scoffed at for years actually have some meaning to them. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am perfect just the way I am. The only thing stopping me is myself.

The sun rose again this morning, and I tried again today, and the only thing I can say is wow. 

In last week’s column, I admitted defeat, and it was the best decision I could’ve made. Help came in so many ways. My parents both told me how great of an article it was. My friends texted me saying how much they identified with what I wrote and how proud of me they were. My teachers heard my melodramatic complaints and found a way to alleviate my stress.

Now, it’s time I say thank you. Thank you to everyone who did as much as read last week’s article and made me feel seen, heard, and believed. Thank you to everyone who went out of their way to talk to me about what I wrote. And, thank you to everyone who did so much more. 

To anyone reading this who feels the way I felt last week, the only advice I can give you is to reach out. Life is too beautiful to spend focusing on all that is ugly. As someone who has found so many reasons to hate everything about this year, I flipped the script and spent a week trying to find reasons to be happy, and because of this, I’ve grown.

Life is what you make of it, and as cliche as that may sound, it’s true. 

Trust me.