Nicolle Hoonsbeen

Senior year is freeing. You spend all of your time as an underclassman wishing and waiting until the day you become “that” senior. And then you are “that” senior. Being “that” senior entails a lot more than what it seems to on the surface. Being “that” senior means you are about to go through the most emotionally and spiritually challenging year of your young life. For me, I felt like I spent so much of my time wanting to be a senior that I forgot to live in the present moment. Senior year is bittersweet. Although I do not regret anything because I believe everything happens for a reason, if I could go back and change anything to help impact my life positively, it would be my attitude. My freshman year I was so caught up on the outer part of who people were that I discredited people quickly and became a person who was consumed by labels and stereotypes. My freshman and sophomore year I tried so hard to be a label that I got lost in all of it. Reflecting back on the days I would be driven home by my parents seems like a thing of the past. I remember playing lacrosse as a freshman and looking up at the seniors thinking, “They are only, like, three years older than me. They can’t know that much more than I already do now,” but I was so wrong. Junior year is when you really begin to figure yourself out.

Junior year is full of firsts. Your first car drive alone, your first prom, your first Ring Week, your first fight with your best friend, your first anxiety attack, your first heartbreak, but those are all a part of your growth and those all make you the person you are today. During my junior year I figured a lot out about who I was as a person, what I valued in relationships, what I didn’t value, and most importantly I began to actually love myself. And I do not mean the artificial “self love” I mean the real self love, the kind of self love that can be painful and hard to find. High school is an emotional rollercoaster, as is life. You are going to have some super-high moments, and you are going to experience some very low moments, but no matter what moment you are on, you must always remember to love yourself. There are going to be days where you contemplate your entire being (especially after Dr. Murphy’s philosophy class), you are going to imagine your life as if you didn’t attend Catalina, you are going to cry harder than ever before because life is relentless at times. But (and this is something I didn’t realize until this year) no matter how awful you think your situation is, Catalina will be there for you. There will be somebody or something on this campus that will give you a glimpse of hope and you’re going to realize that sometimes that is all you need. I did not appreciate the things Catalina taught me fully until this year. As an underclassman, I thought so little of myself and others and always sought the worst in people. But after some relationships ended, and some began to blossom, I realized that in order to live a truly happy life, I must love myself and surround myself with people who are only going to help me grow. This brings me to the friendship part of high school. I am at a serious loss for words when it comes to the friendships I have gained here. No words or things could even begin to explain the amount of warmth and love I have in my heart for all of you. Those “high” moments I mentioned earlier are all credited to the relationships I have found over these past years, and I would not take back any of them for the world.

Senior year is full of lasts. Your last prom, your last study hall jam session, your last time being asked to take off your sweatshirt, your last KKs, your last fire drill, your last assembly. Everything you are so used to doing is being done for the last time, and you never really think it was supposed to end, until it does. My time at Catalina was not perfect. I failed, I cried, I laughed, I sang, I grew, but most importantly, I learned. I learned what it is like to be a better person, a better friend, a better sister, and overall, a better me.

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