Monica Penn Senior Columns


     Getting myself to sit down and write this has been one of the most difficult things I’ve done all year. When it comes to summing up my high school career, 600 words is simply not enough. As cliché as it sounds, these past four years have been marked by blood, sweat and tears. They were nothing like what I expected them to be and they certainly fell short of the glamorous and exciting images shows such as “One Tree Hill”, “Gossip Girl” and “The O.C.” try so hard to brainwash teenagers with. The harsh reality of high school is that we’re constantly bogged down by stress invoked by academic competitiveness, too much drama, growing responsibility and increased self-awareness. It is like being in a cocoon going through metamorphosis but getting stomped and kicked repeatedly along the way. The end result is an adult that has been left with four simple lessons: procrastination is bad, grades are important, competitiveness is inherent and incurable, relaxation is an absolute must and life never turns out the way we want it to.

     One of the hardest and most painful lessons for me to learn about was procrastination. Procrastination is like a chronic disease that leaves the body exhausted and agitated from lack of sleep. It’s seductive and may feel nice for awhile, but when the due date comes, there will be no sleep for days. I remember when I first experienced the disastrous affects of procrastination freshmen year with Pre-AP Biology’s semester project, back in the day when Ms. Ragan taught it. I stayed up until 3 AM for two consecutive days to end up with a nearly 40-paged product. However, those nights weren’t nearly as bad as Ms. Serna’s term cards that kept me up until 5:30 AM. I had fun doing other things rather than my homework, but I would always end up hurting myself and turning in something that I wasn’t proud of. Procrastination is indeed a cruel disease.

     As for academic competitiveness, people can deny it all they want, but the truth is that we can’t stand being trumped by the people we have secretly deemed “lower” than us, or by our friends for whom we harbor “playful” competitiveness. Some people say that grades don’t matter and that skipping class, not turning in homework and cruising through life with a “C” is okay, but that is a lie. The more ambitious students, something I consider myself to be, know that school is more about who has the most AP classes, who is ranked higher and who can get into the better college. Most of us at some point or another have thought, “I’ve got to be smarter than her. She’s such a ditz, it would be an insult if my grades are worse than hers.” Occasionally, our competitiveness seemed to consume us. That’s not to say that fun had no place in our high school career; it more like bragging and seeing the results of all our hard work is part of the fun of school.

     As for life not going the way we want it to, that’s a truth that people just have to deal with, even though most people prefer to be optimistic (I’m not one of them). I could have never imagined four years ago that one of my closest friends would not be able to walk across the graduation stage with me or that the friendships I worked so hard to sustain were fading. And as dark as all that seems, I’ve made new friends and have a lot of fun memories of being wacky and crazy with my best friends. After everything, I would say I am ending my high school career on a successful note. My one departing piece of advice to future graduates: high school is nothing more than a speck in our life span. Don’t worry about it too much.