On May 24th 2017, I had a 3 hour practice for an event that at one time in my life I never thought I’d see. And on Sunday, May 28th 2017, myself along with over 300 other students walked across a stage, closing the door on a journey that many of us had embarked on together since childhood. 12 years of school came to a close in a 3 hour ceremony.
Over the 12 years, friendships have fallen apart and new ones have formed. Laughs were shared, and shoulders were offered to cry on. Mistakes were made, and lessons were learned. We all went through high school, and now, we’ve all done it. For some, this day is a family legacy, and for others, simply a step they must take to get a piece of paper that gives them a right of passage into the next step of their life.
I’m certain that many of the minds on that stage were focused on the future. Whether that be the next couple of months that lead to college move in day or the next few hours, wondering “when will this be over? I’m starving for some dinner!”, this stage marks a future. But for some, this was never a certain thing. We all took our own paths, lived and will live our own lives and endured our own hardships. As I prepared to walk across the stage, I reflected on the life I lived that brought me to that day.
I’m not sure how many people know of my struggles in 8th grade. Only a few people in my life know very limited details of this time in life. It was the hardest year of my life and one that changed me for the rest of my life.
In 8th grade, my depression took a turn for the worse. I remember there were days when I couldn’t get out of bed and just the thought of going to school would send me into a full blown panic attack. On the days when I made it to school, it got to the point where I couldn’t do my assignments in class and was doing them in the guidance counselor’s office. I stopped studying. As soon as I got home, I went to bed, but didn’t fall asleep until the early morning hours, or if I’d taken sleeping pills. My grades dropped and even on some tests I considered cheating simply because I hadn’t had the mental capacity to get myself to study.
As the mental deterioration took its toll, my social anxiety got worse. I felt alone. Soon, the lunchroom became too much. Too loud and too crowded, yet too alone. So, I ate in the guidance counselors office and my school year became those 4 walls. My ever supportive mother brought me lunch everyday and sat with me until I clung to her, sobbing wanting her to stay or at least take me home for the day. I’d never not wanted to be in school, my favorite place, more. On one morning, I dragged my mother further down than she ever deserved. As I was getting ready to go to school that morning, I was on my porch, and I stopped. I stood there, frozen and turned to my mom. I said 4 words.
“I can’t do this.” and I was done. I no longer cared if I lived, because at that time, living was only a lonely, cold hell I couldn’t escape. If I slept , died or did nothing, it no longer mattered to me.
I never acted in those thoughts, but they were constantly plaguing me and alienating me from everyone around me. And as I neared the end of middle school, I faced a choice: Would I continue to OHS? And for a long time, the answer was no. I considered homeschooling for many months. And going into my freshman year I expected one thing of myself: just get through this. I went in expecting to be alone.
How wrong was I?
Those who have affected my high school career in a positive way, you know who you are. And now you understand why and what these 4 years meant to me. Whether I’ve known you for all 4 years, or only a few months, you know. Every football game, musical, and senior activity was worth it. Seeing my favorite band, who got me through hard times, in concert, was worth it. It was and is ALL worth it. I’d always heard high school was the best 4 years of your life. 4 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. Today, and in a few days when I accept my honors diploma, magna cum laude and The Presidential Award, I 100% believe the worth of life, high school, and happiness. It’s all worth. Thank you to OHS for giving me a forever home, a safe place to find my light and happiness again.
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