To those of you in the latter half of your undergraduate degree, what do you remember about the end of high school?
I can tell you that I don’t remember much of Grade 12. I think I enjoyed myself a little bit, but I was also the head of three clubs, applying to university and grappling with the idea of moving away from home. I wish I could say I have a fountain of memories of lazy spring evenings or poorly-planned adventures, but most of what I remember is staying up until 2 a.m. writing essays or studying for the calculus class I was almost failing.
Maybe I’m just getting nostalgic as I inch closer to graduation (or, more realistically, panicky as I careen closer to my thesis presentation), but I wish that I had more exciting or interesting or even sappy memories about that time. And even though it feels like I don’t have time to breathe sometimes, there are some things I’m trying to keep in mind as I work through the next month and a half.
I realize how cheesy this sounds, but I remember the end of high school and how busy I was, and how I felt like I was fumbling for whatever small memories I could catch and hold onto for the future. I forgot to have a little fun while I was there, and despite being almost as swept-off-my-feet busy now, I’m trying to not let that happen again.
It’s hard to do, but I’m trying to savour fleeting, seemingly inconsequential moments. I’m taking mental pictures of my friends laughing at ridiculous jokes. Or bottling the way the sun looks on my bedroom wall during that golden post-sunrise time. Or relishing the chilly air during a late-night walk home from an evening out.
I’m also doing my best to not blame myself for everything that happens around me. This one is tough; I am accountable for all my own actions, but I’m working to accept that there are factors that may be out of my control in so many situations. Sometimes the rug will be yanked out from under you and, as upsetting as that is, remember that it’s not the end of the world. I’m trying.
An old fake proverb from Mad Magazine states: “may you do various things and may other various things happen to you”. Words to live by. And it’s hard to accept that some things are out of my hands, but I’m realizing how important that is to acknowledge.
I don’t want to remember my last year of undergrad as a messy, stressful, uncertain period. And I’ve resolved that I’m not going to. I have had so many cozy nights at my favourite low-key bar. I’ve hosted my first dinner party (it was pancakes, but conceptually it was still a dinner party). I’ve achieved and earned rewards and opportunities I’ve worked my ass off for, and all of those experiences outweigh speedwriting a response paper or cramming for the GRE.
No one other than me will remember why those events are so important on a personal level. Similarly, no one will ever wholly understand why a particular outing or person or food is worth preserving in your mind. Remember that.