I remember being a little kid and feeling like high school graduation was never going to get here. My parents even laughed hysterically at my preschool graduation when I wore a shirt that said Class of 2016.
It seemed like school was going to go on forever and I would never make it to Big Kid Land. I would be perpetually stuck as a curly-haired squirt who thought that Saltair was Princess Jasmine’s castle.
Somehow though, high school graduation managed to sneak up on me like the due date on tax forms. One minute I was eight years old, playing with my Barbies, watching cartoons and the next, I was standing in line with my cap and gown ready to get my diploma. Now, in a few weeks, I will head to Southern Utah University to continue with my next adventure in life.
I remember being so nervous for my first day of high school; just thinking about it got my palms sweaty. Would I get lost on my way to classes? Would the upperclassmen bully me? Would my outfit the first day be red carpet worthy? It seemed like if everything wasn’t perfect at the time, my social life would officially be over. I was a bit of a drama queen then.
To my surprise, I fell into high school life like I had been doing it for years. I had my lunch spot in the cafeteria extension, I had my group of friends and I was rocking my classes. The upperclassmen actually thought I was pretty cool and my outfits made the cut.
However, like most teenagers, it still gave me a shock when it didn’t turn out like the movies. I blame “High School Musical” for my unrealistic expectations. I did not wake up with my hair perfect and my makeup done. Unfortunately, we did not sing and dance through our problems. The cheerleaders weren’t mean or dumb and the nerds weren’t allergy-ridden, pale kids with no fashion sense. I soon realized that high school was just regular, old life. How anticlimactic, right?
Now I’m heading off to college and I couldn’t feel more ridiculous. I thought high school was scary, but I didn’t anticipate that I would be living four hours away from home in a brand-new city with five total strangers.
The crazy part is I’m not really that nervous. I don’t think anyone my age is. Sure, there are a few things that might get our hearts racing a little, but we all feel excitement more than anything. In college, they don’t care if you show up looking like you just got up five minutes ago, which is likely.
For the first time in our lives, we are the ones in charge. We get to choose what we do, where we go and who we are with. It’s like a completely blank piece of paper; we can do whatever we want with it. I totally agree that right now is a strange, hard and confusing part of our lives, but it’s also wonderful, messy and fun.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am pretty excited that I get to choose who I want to be from now on. It’s basically dress-up for adults. High school is all about learning the different types of people out there. College is for actually changing into that person and I couldn’t be more ready.
I am also pleased to know that I am not the only one with a countdown on my phone telling the specific amount of weeks, days and hours until I move in. But who can really blame us? It’s almost like setting kids free at a park. They may be hesitant at first, but soon they will be going so fast that the speed of light will look like dial-up internet.
My wish for everyone is that they get to have, or have had, this feeling in their life. It is one of the most unique, life-changing experiences. There is so much joy and hope that you just can’t help feeling ecstatic, even if you’re not the one experiencing it.
Now my fellow peers and I get to ride off into the sunset on our noble steeds like the ending to an Oscar-winning movie. I encourage all parents and all kids to push for that moment. Life will never be perfect, but it still feels great.
Peatross graduated from Tooele High School in May. She has been a high school correspondent for the Tooele Transcript Bulletin since 2014.