As the class of 2021 nears the end of our four-year journey at Kennedy High School, it’s hard not to look back and reflect. Our successes and failures are what shape our lives and help us decide our futures.
This past year has proved to be a challenge moving from an unfinished junior year to a stifled senior year. Stripped of both firsts and lasts, we have yet to truly experience high school. Four years of late nights finishing homework, tears and anxiety over tests, and working to the point of illness all for a grade point average and to be ranked high in comparison to my classmates.
Carlie Mather, sr., has found that grades have been her priority during her time at Kennedy. She found that crucial moments are left behind when a GPA becomes the cornerstone of personal achievement.
“I have found myself stuck in thinking academics defined me,” Mather said. “Don’t get me wrong I made so many amazing friends and created the most fun memories, but throughout a good majority of those times, in the back of my mind I was filled with anxiety about due dates and the next paper I would have despite having good grades.”
It is difficult to escape that mindset. So often, students conflate self-worth with their academic achievements, leading to unhealthy mentalities. A bad grade becomes more than a small mistake, evolving into the embodiment of a student’s insecurities. Letting go of that attachment to success can seem next to impossible, but much is lost when numbers are the only priority.
“One of my biggest life fears is not living life to the fullest. Being completely absorbed in work and never learning to let go of the things I am unable to control,” Mather said.
It’s not only grades that kept us isolated. Whether it was social anxiety, prior commitments or sheer laziness, there was always a reason to avoid school events. It’s heartbreaking to look back at these missed opportunities, ignorant to the fact that everything can be taken in the blink of an eye.
“I was always the type to want to stay in on a Friday night football game, but sometimes wish I would’ve sucked it up and just went,” Lydia Heskje, sr., said. “I will never get my High School days back, now that they’re almost gone.”
I wish I had gone to more school events. I wish I had talked to more people. I wish I had complained less. I wish I hadn’t been afraid of judgement, living as myself unapologetically. I wish I could go back and tell myself to treasure what I had.
I wish I could go back and live my high school years to their fullest. But, as everyone knows, that is not possible. There’s no going back.
All we can do is live with our actions and move forward. Did we lead the perfect life? No. Did anyone? Surely every student has regrets about their time at Kennedy. There were failures of all kinds. Failures of academics. Failures of sportsmanship. Failures of athletics. Failures of kindness.
Merely accepting our consequences feels like a resignation of defeat, another failure to add to the pile. Yet, it’s all we can do. We can remember our shortcomings, and use that knowledge to prevent these mistakes from repeating themselves, but we must move on eventually.
“I am excited to see where the next chapter of my likes takes me. I am excited to use the knowledge that I have obtained here at Kennedy and apply it at college next year and beyond,” Heskje said. “Most importantly, I am excited to see myself accomplish the goals and dreams that I have had and established for myself at such a young age, and making that little 10-year-old Lydia proud, would mean and make the world to me.”