The magic of senior year

Danielle Deraleau, Featured Columnist

     In the years leading up to 12th grade, I had always heard that senior year would be the best year of my life. I heard it at parties I attended with my parents when they told people I was in high school. I heard it from relatives, from old friends and even from kids who had just graduated only the year before. “Senior year is going to be the best year of your life. It was for me.”

     But I didn’t buy it.

     To me, it just seemed like routine. Still six six weeks, still a school year, still another grade level. How could it be any different?

     Now, I hate to admit I’m wrong. I try to avoid it if at all possible. But here, there’s no way to get around it. I made a mistake.

     There’s something about senior year.

     If someone asked me what my favorite year in high school was, I wouldn’t even have to hesitate. I can’t pinpoint one thing that made it special, but that’s because there isn’t just one thing. It’s a series of things, a series of events, which ended up making senior year the best year of my life.

     I look back on the moments now, and there are so many good ones I can’t even keep count. I remember laughing with my best friends on multiple occasions, doing things I never thought I would do (or would have the chance to do), and taking risks I might not have taken had you asked me a year earlier. I can see myself smiling for prom pictures, making rainbow cake, learning to whistle and tanning on a rooftop clearly in my head.

     This doesn’t mean that the year passed by without drama. Unfortunately, the mental images of my best friend’s and mine’s car accident, saying goodbye to people who were moving away and stressing over some school related things are also clear in my mind. But I handled everything that got thrown at me better than I ever had before. Sometimes, in these good and bad moments, I would step back and think “Wow, is this really me? Is this really my life?” It had never been anything like this.

     It’s not just that the experiences and the things I did this year were different; it’s that I actually changed as a person. I used to just chill, fly under the radar and not cause too much trouble or bring too much attention to myself. I’d get nervous whenever I called someone on the phone or presented a project, rehearsing what I was going to say in my head before I actually had to say it. I thought sarcastic and funny things, but rarely shared them aloud. I got invited to do things, but didn’t always take people up on their offers.

     I don’t know if it was the “Whatever, it’s senior year anyway, so I’ll just do what I want to. Why not?” attitude I adopted, or something else, but it’s like I have made a complete 360. I call people up easily and with confidence. I take on new adventures and now crave them. Whenever I’m invited to do something, I don’t make excuses, I make it happen. And, much to my teachers’ dismay, I can’t imagine myself ever being quiet in class again.

     I’ve met so many people I didn’t even have a clue I lived in the same city with until this year. I wonder where they were all the other years of my life I could have spent with them. The new group of friends that somehow formed over the course of these months has become so close that it’s like we’ve known each other our whole lives, when in reality it hasn’t been that long. Without them, this senior year wouldn’t have been what it was. They shaped it and in turn affected me. I owe most of my new confidence and openness to them.

     You hear people say it’s amazing what a difference a year makes. And it’s completely true. My best advice to everyone, senior or not, is to do what you want, and live without regrets. Only when you stop limiting yourself can you realize who you truly are and what you’re truly capable of.

     And only then can you throw your graduation cap high into the air, with a smile on your face and absolutely no regrets.