Hoping for One More ‘Yes’ Before High School Ends
USINFO | 2013-09-23 15:45

The other weekend, I left the sunny, beautiful city of Cleveland for three days to temporarily relocate to the even sunnier, more beautiful Youngstown, Ohio, where the Ohio High School Speech League would be holding its annual state championship debate tournament.
The event, like most of the other debate tournaments I’ve gone to as a high school student, was miserable. The food was bad, the rounds didn’t run on time, and it ended at such an ungodly hour that I didn’t get back to my house (and, more important, my bed) until the sun started to rise the next morning.
And yet, while I was sitting and listening to the umpteenth speaker I didn’t know, in the umpteenth awards ceremony at 10:30 at night, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic. After all, this was the last tournament I would ever go to — the last time I would ever be with my team, and my coaches, again.
Even though debate is a lot of work, and a lot of stress, and definitely more than a little bit nerdy, it’s also been a big part of my life for the past four years, a part of my life that I wouldn’t really be the same without.
And that got me thinking, not only about the future and college, but about how everything — my classes, my extracurricular activities, my entire high school career — is actually coming to a close. How I won’t do any of the things I’ve become so used to doing, or see any of the people I’ve become so used to seeing, ever again.
And now, at the end of what is bound to be one of the most important journeys of my life, I can’t help but look back and wonder: “Is this really it? Is this really what I’ve been working for?”
 That’s not to say that I’m bitter about my experience at high school. I’m not, at all. To the contrary, the friendships I’ve made and the activities I’ve participated in have been some of the most important things that I’ll ever do.
It’s just that, now that high school is drawing to a close, it seems like I was never really afforded the conclusion that I thought I deserved; that there isn’t the sort of closure, the sort of clear, definite “last chapter” that I always thought I would get.
The college process, conveniently enough, serves as the perfect example. Three years ago at this time, when I was a freshman and the class of 2010 was finding out its collective admissions decisions, I couldn’t wait until I was a senior, until I too would be into college, and could get out of this high school and into the “real world.”
But now, after knowing for three months that I’m going to be an Eph, I can say with some authority that it’s not like that at all. It’s not that I’m disappointed or upset about my decision; I’m not. It just seems like going off to college isn’t as important, or definitive, or even as real an experience as the freshman Will Walker thought it would be.
It still feels like I’m dreaming, like I’m still 14 and all of this grown-up talk about choosing majors, and finding roommates, and looking into scholarships isn’t actually happening to me.
But not everything that’s come at the end of my high school career has been so confusing. That is, while I may not be getting a lot of closure, the immanency of my permanent departure from the land of secondary schooling has also had the pleasant side effect of forcing me to better appreciate the things I do have left.
For example, I’ve been spending more time with my classmates (before they turn into my former classmates) and have really started trying to enjoy my classes. (It’s amazing how much you can learn when you aren’t worried about what grade you’re getting.)
And then there’s the whole issue of prom. I’m generally not one for school-sponsored events, but even I can’t resist the sappy sentimentality that surrounds my “last dance ever” as a high school student. The only outstanding issue is that I don’t technically have a date yet, but hopefully that problem will resolve itself in the near future.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Olivia, will you go to prom with me?
And so, while the road ahead may seem confusing, unclear, and more than a little bit daunting, it’s still hard not to be grateful for the time I’ve had so far in high school, and maybe more important, for the little time I have left.
Because even though the ending of my story isn’t coming in the way I expected it to, it’s still been an amazing ride. And (pending positive responses to certain questions) the best could still be yet to come.
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