It’s 11:30 p.m., and raindrops are pelting my car as I’m driving home through a storm. Water is collecting on my windshield at a rate faster than the windshield wipers can handle, much like the schoolwork, the tests and the work that needs to be done for college.
Oh yeah, and I’m a second semester senior, so that means this all is a breeze, right?
Up until the first day, I had an illusion that life would suddenly become easier when my last semester came, or at least that’s what I’d heard. The grass would supposedly become greener, girls wouldn’t make me feel so conflicted and, most importantly, the stresses of everyday life would drift away. I would have the opportunity to live like I’d never lived before.
And then I realized that this illusion had absolutely no truth to it.
There is no point in time when life gets easier. Your problems don’t magically drift away because your grades matter just a little less. My life has actually gotten harder. I have more work, more responsibility and more decisions to make than I ever have had before. Really, there’s less time to party, not more.
This is not what I had planned on. I had planned on working hard for three and a half years so I could check out for one semester; take a few months off, cruise through the last time I would have with my friends ever, enjoy life as much as possible.
I’m living the reality of that illusion, and it’s nothing like I’d pictured. I’m not enjoying life as much as possible. In fact, I’m not really enjoying life at all.
More so than ever, school is the most important thing in my life. College talk slips into almost every conversation I have with people. Conversations with my grandparents, usually laden with political banter, are now dominated by discussion of scholarships and interviews. It’s completely foreign territory, and quite frankly, I’m scared.
I’m scared about choosing the right college, and I’m scared of getting rejected by every single one. I’m scared of the little clock that keeps right on ticking, every second that goes by being one less second that I’ll have in high school, and one more second that I’ll never get back. But what scares me most is what I haven’t done, and I’m scared that I’ll be 40, depressed and lacking better times to look back on.
All those times I stayed home instead of going out, opted for less risky textbooks over adventures outside of academia, I said “I’ll have fun later.” I was skipping the life I wanted to be living for a future life I wanted to attain. I skipped Skizzy Mars and Gnash to study for Pre-Calculus Honors. I skipped Kanye West to study for Calculus.
And I’m no better at math because of this. After I graduate Monta Vista, I don’t intend on taking another day of math ever again. But I can guarantee you that I will be listening to The College Dropout for years to come. So what will I remember when Kanye comes on: the grades I earned or the performance I missed?
There is no such thing as “waiting for later.” Life is all about grasping the present. Second semester is not some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not some Garden of Eden. Second semester is a continuation of the life I have spent the last few years creating for myself.
And if the reality you have created for yourself is something you don’t like, then second semester will just be a continuation of that: a reality that you don’t like. My advice to everyone younger than me — create a reality you like for yourself now. There will never be some kind of enjoyable later without an enjoyable present.