I am not a patient person. I do not like being helped. I am headstrong, stubborn, and cynical. Some might call me bossy. These are the things I knew about myself four years ago, when I was graduating eighth grade and coming here.
I still know these things to be true. I am still the same independent and willful young woman. High school has not been easy for me. I’ve always struggled with maintaining friendships, with passing my APs, with math classes and time management and scheduling meetings and getting enough sleep.
My classmates and I spent a journey period last month asking Dr. Murphy to describe us. He told Faith Tell she was one of the most joy-filled people he knows, and then he looked at me and said, “You know, Annarose, I can’t say that about you.”
There’s a beat.
“But you know that.”
He’s right. I do know that. I know how I’ve wandered these halls with a cloud over my head, contemplating the big things I’d do if I weren’t young and stuck in a young person’s little life. I know how I’ve planned every year, planned something that will redeem me for all the difficulty I’ve faced, forcing myself into friendships, forcing myself into groups where we all knew I’d never belong. I know how my family has struggled here, our best and our worst moments never hidden from my classmates, even our meals together on view to the whole school. I know how I’ve looked in mirrors and promised myself that today will be different, that I can do it.
I’ve always pulled through. I’ve never been perfect, but I’ve never failed myself either.
I can make no promises of what your time here will hold. You will laugh. You will cry. You will feel so tired that leaving your desk for the next class feels much more dramatic than just standing up. Say yes to opportunities if you’re interested. Don’t feel that you have to be interested. I have been on more wait lists than I can count, and what happens in the interim tends to be most important. During your senior year, always say yes to your loved ones. Go to Target with your mom. Get pizza with the friends who’ve become your family. Never miss an opportunity to tell them they’re loved. Never shut them down when they say the same to you. Eat chocolate and ice cream and pasta and sushi and tacos and poke and curry. Shower and sleep and work out and hug your little brother and remember everything is temporary. The good and the bad, it will all fade in time. So don’t worry too much. Just breathe it in.