Well, this is not how I thought I’d leave WCA. At the end of this year, I was supposed to have a fun, chill week with my teachers and friends. After this week, I was also supposed to have a track season, with rainy, early morning relays, hot afternoon practices, and personal best times under *other high schools’ football lights. And not long after that, I was supposed to have a graduation, where my hard earned tassels and oversized gown showed the world that I had conquered high school. And, within the graduation program brochure, my college name would boldly proclaim where I’ll be spending my next four years.
However, it will not happen like that. I can’t say I’ve been a school-spirited person in the first place; actually, I’ve always been pretty anti-high school. Nonetheless, when school was called off, it hit me that the anticipation of laughing and hugging my friends too much, and seeing my grandparents and parents’ proud faces, would not be fulfilled. But, I’ve had a lot of time to think, and looking back, there are so many things that I have to be grateful for, which minimizes missing just one month of school. With that said, there are five pieces of advice that I wish I could give to ninth-grade me, or any current freshman who wants to learn from a post-pubescent elder:
First, life is just not that hard; sorry to start off like that, but it’s really not. For me at least, I never experienced tremendous loss or pain (if you have, then please disregard this). My difficulties mainly consisted of fights while driving with a permit, friend drama, sports injuries, and stressful tests. All of these things seemed world-ending in the moment, but were only micro-difficul- ties in the grand scheme of the real world and my future. I have been able, in this strange quarantine, to mull over these setbacks and learn from them, but would urge other high- schoolers going through them to do the same sooner rather than later.
Second, talk less and listen more; people don’t really need or want to hear your opinions. For me, it took years of shocked expressions and angered responses to realize that people are more worthy of receiv- ing uplifting words than you are of delivering blunt, hurtful remarks. There is a time and a place to be direct, but for the most part, trust that people are not in need of your critiques if they don’t ask for them. Unfortunately, this seems like it will be a chronic problem for me, but it is still a sincere hope for myself and others that we choose the caring type of critique, which is none at all.
Third, high school’s so-called social hierarchy is simply a construct based on surface-level characteristics. The “rich, attractive, athletic frats,” “robotics nerds,” “theatre kids,” and “artsy girls” are so much more than their labels. The trap of conveniently labelling people is that it eventually becomes cemented in the brain as their identities to you. Had I actually gone out of my social “class” and talked to these people, I would have realized that Hollywood’s cinema strategy does not apply to real-life West County. I truly believe that the people who did not pay attention to this construct and went out of their way to get to know everyone had a much more fulfilled social experience.
Fourth, college is not everything. Despite the fact that Wesminster is a college-preparatory school, the college experience is not all it’s hyped up to be. When applying, you may realize that your standardized testing or transcript stats are not adequate for certain universities. Or, that even if admitted, price tags could range up to $70,000 per year. Beyond just getting in, no university is “perfect;” even the ivies have their flaws behind their pristine name brands. If a university is not right for you and your family, do not buy into the illusion that you must apply to it just because it would look good for WCA to say that they have a graduate attending there. So yes, be excited for college, but realize that it’s better to have realistic expectations than to romanticize an impossibility.
Fifth, WCA is only as Christian as you make it. Most students have grown up in a christian home, attend church, and enrolled in Christian schools their whole lives. However, this does not mean that all students at WCA are Christians, or at least actively work to live out their faith. “Bor- ing” chapels, Bible classes, and devotionals are all products of student disinterest. While students still probably conduct them- selves to a higher standard than those at non-Christian schools, that could just be due to a set of moral values that they were born to live by, not the Gospel Truth. At Westminster, there are so many resources at your disposal to deepen your faith and make a Christian education intentional- use them. Going into college, my hope is not just to be another “kingdom kid” who knows all the right Christian answers, but to intentionally live in the light of Christ.
These pieces of advice may not apply to everybody. That’s ok. Even if no one takes them to heart, or even reads them, I would like to apologize to the Class of 2020. Often, I was held back by doing the opposite of these five things, and as a result, haven’t been very emotionally impacted during this time of cancellations. I’m pretty stoked though for a hot and humid graduation and a 30 year reunion, with you all. Roll ‘Cats.