My First Last

It has always seemed weird to me how finals can come out of nowhere. Teachers talk about them as they get closer, but they always seem like something abstract and far away. And then, out of the blue, we realize that there is only one full week between us and the start of those three dreaded days. This year, there is an added gravity to them for me because not only are they the culmination of my fall semester, but they serve as a mile marker, pointing out how much closer I am to the finish line.

I have taken finals every semester since I started high school. All of a sudden, I only have two more before me. All of a sudden, I’m seeing “lasts” everywhere I look. Last homecoming, last Snowball (a weekend high school team building event), last Christmas break. All of these little things clicking into place one by one like the racket of a rollercoaster marching toward the downward free fall.

In some ways, this makes me sad. I want more Snowballs with my best friends, I want more chances to buy pretty dresses and make ourselves up like princesses for a night. I want to cling to these experiences – to the things that I know, to the people that I love – because I’m not sure that I’m ready for things to change.

But at the same time, I know that all of these “lasts” are only going to lead to “firsts”. Last Christmas break, but my first trip overseas next semester. Last Snowball, but first opportunity to be a teen leader. Last semester of high school, but first steps toward college. All of the things that I’m leaving behind are only making room for new experiences, new people, new ways to grow and learn.

Of course, I’m scared. I have friends that are so ready to get out of high school they practically have one eye on the door at all times. But I’ve never been like that. I like my routines. I take comfort in the things I know and understand. And I’m not really a big fan of change. But these changes, I am excited for. And scared of. And that’s okay.

It’s going to be hard not to slowly tick off all of the time that I have left in high school. I feel like everything that I do and see is going to be a reminder that I will never be able to do this again in high school. At the same time, however, it can also be a reminder that soon I will be doing this in college. Living in a dorm. Going to classes, meeting new people, hopefully trying as many new things as an introvert can handle. The end is bittersweet, because it’s not only an end, but a beginning as well.

Things are what we make them. I could pretend that leaving high school is no big deal and that I don’t care about it. I could focus on the things that I’m leaving behind and all of the “lasts” that I will never do or see again. Or I think about how every “last” is also a “first”, and how sometimes the end of one thing can lead to the beginning of everything else.

See you next week!