The first thing my mom said to me after receiving five college rejections in a span of ten minutes was,
“I guess RM wasn’t worth it, huh?”
To be honest, that hurt. But quarantine has given me time to really reflect on that question and my high school experience as a whole.
It’s easy to have many regrets regarding high school. Throughout the past four years, I often found myself obsessing over what I could’ve done—that test I could’ve studied harder for, the presentation I could’ve practiced more for, the essay I could’ve rewritten one more time. Though ruminating did not make me more productive or less prone to bad decisions, I convinced myself that if I could maximize my productivity and become the “perfect” version of myself, I would finally be happy.
Last summer, I decided to start recording every day I feel happy and what prompted it in a Google note. I expected my happiness to correlate with my productivity—when I finish more tasks, I should theoretically become happier.
But once I actually started to write down my days, I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. Instead, I noticed my happiness strongly correlated with spending time with others. Days where I bonded with my co-editors over the next issue’s layout or baked cookies with two-year-old expired sugar with a friend made the list whereas days where I grinded out three projects in 16 hours didn’t.
Though this realization may seem obvious, it honestly shocked me. I have always considered myself an introvert, so the idea that spending time with friends brought me the most joy was so foreign to me; I spent so much time trying to achieve perfection, but my “imperfect” days made me happier.
But as I thought about it more, I realized my friends shaped my favorite high school memories and my environment. Through thick and thin, my friends have always been by my side. They supported me through my existential crises, made me laugh,inspired me with their dreams and made me who I am today. I realized that I can’t regret my high school experiences because I don’t regret them.
I’m ending this chapter of my life soon. I’m going to miss seeing the friends I’ve made these past four years regularly. I’m going to continue making mistakes. I’m going to be heading to a college I like, albeit not the one I originally wanted to go to, and I’m going to use the knowledge, experiences and confidence I gained over the past four years to guide me through the next.
To my friends: thank you. Thank you for all the inside jokes (TS), humidity control system nicknames, six-hour conversations, and so much more. The past four years would not have been the same without you. You’ve undoubtedly helped me grow, and words can’t express how much you mean to me.
To the class of 2021 and beyond: Take initiative of your high school experience. Talk to people. Take calculated risks. My favorite high school memories came from the people I surrounded myself with, and these four years fly by quickly, so make the most of it while you can.
To my mom:
RM was worth it.