A note of gratitude

Four years ago I entered Carroll High School with everything planned out until senior year: what classes I would take, who my best friends would be, what sport I would play and how many state championships we would win, the boy that would be my boyfriend and what life after high school would look like.

Now I sit here, completing my remaining e-learning assignments, realizing that absolutely nothing went according to plan–and I am so grateful for that.

I’ve seen many similarities between me and the freshman girl who didn’t know what to expect from high school all those years ago. As I had done then, I’ve been wishing my life away, preparing for the future and planning it all out, rather than being intentional with the life I’ve been given and living where my feet are.

Just a few short months ago, I couldn’t wait to go to college; to stop wasting my time with classes I’m uninterested in, with people who I won’t speak to in a few months, with the mundane of high school life I thought I would never miss. I’ve never been more wrong about anything.

As I sit here, writing the last story I will ever write for the Charger Online, I’m overwhelmed by emotions that have flooded my last four years at Carroll, I’m overwhelmed by the self-growth that I have experienced since I was 14.

For my last story, I want to offer the Classes of 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond some advice about making the most out of high school.

Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be.

I challenged my self each year, taking AP and Honors classes that will push me so I don’t get bored with school, but after sophomore year, I decided to put minimal pressure on myself. It may seem like one grade or one test is the most important thing in your life, but it’s not.

It’s really simple to get caught up in the stresses of each class, especially when there’s college to prepare for and make yourself look competitive. But it’s not worth it. It’s not worth studying for endless hours or forgetting to have fun with friends because you’re so worried about school.

Some of my favorite memories come from my various AP classes I took. We worked hard and moved at a fast pace, but never forgot to have fun. That’s what’s important about high school, that’s what you’re going to remember in a few years.

Focus on yourself.

It may seem that what other people think and what other people want are what’s most important, but always remember that you and your feelings come first. You are the only person who you will have to please for life. Not the others around you.

Do what makes you happy, live a life that holds onto your values, not others’. This time is about figuring out who you are, not about living up to societal expectations.

Embrace who you are and be proud of it. Each one of us is incredibly special and has so many different abilities to offer to the table. There is no point in trying to hide who you are in order to please other people.

Be thankful.

This lesson has been the greatest I’ve learned, especially in the last two months. There are so many people at Carroll to be thankful for, whether it be your friends, teachers and administrators, there is always someone looking at for you and to be thankful for.

We are very fortunate to go to a school like Carroll, one where we are given some of the best educations, athletics and extracurriculars. There are going to be some days that you hate it, which makes sense, high school isn’t perfect. But, for me, I’ve been overwhelmingly grateful to go to a school like this one.

Be thankful for the school, for the mundane of high school life. Trust me, you’ll miss it some day, even if it doesn’t feel like you will.

Spread positivity and kindness.

Yes, this is the cheesiest bit of advice I have, but it’s true. No one enjoys spending their time with people who are cruel and seem to drain the light out of everything. Why would you ever choose to act that way?

Be the light. Make a difference.

It doesn’t take anyone extraordinarily brave or outgoing to make a difference, the easiest way is by showcasing your character. It doesn’t take a lot of courage to be a good person, just be who you are. In a few years, no one is going to remember you by how popular you were or what sports you played, but by how you treated others. Isn’t that what’s important?

Finally, cherish every single moment.

This was my motto for senior year, and to be quite frank, I 100% failed.

As I said before, I spent too much time planning the future and wishing my life away that I forgot to love this year while in the moment. That is my biggest regret of senior year and I don’t want anyone else to have it.

One day, you’re at your Freshman Mixer meeting the people you’re about to spend the next four years with and then, before you know it, you’re picking up your cap and gown. All I’ve done for the last two months is ask myself why I let things move by so fast. Why didn’t I enjoy laughing with my friends at lunch more? Why didn’t I speak my mind in class? Why didn’t I take more pictures and videos of what I loved?

The answer is because I thought it would last forever. And now that it’s gone, I just want it back.

Don’t wish these four years away, be intentional with how you live your life during high school. If graduating during a pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that you’ll miss these moments more than you ever thought.

Thank you to my friends, for showing me how to love unconditionally and how special each of us are.

Thank you to my teachers and administrators, for showing me what I’m passionate about and pushing me to reach my goals.

Thank you to my parents, for supporting me no matter how many curve balls are thrown my way.

Thank you to the entire NACS community, for coming together in these uncertain times.

And thank you to Carroll High School, for everything. It’s an honor to say I was a student here.