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An Appreciation for the Fleeting Memories

When I was a freshman, I used to count down the days until graduation, clinging onto the idea that someday, I’d be free of it all. I was so desperate to leave the rushed 6 A.M. breakfasts in the car, the hours of daily precalculus problems, and the drowsy nights spent clutching a textbook behind me. I wanted nothing but my diploma – an invitation to freedom from the heavy bag of textbooks weighing down my shoulders and the dazed mornings spent meandering through the halls.

It’s the end of my sophomore year, and now, I can’t even fathom that my high school experience is halfway over. The girl that is now a little over seven hundred days away from graduating is different from the girl that was over thirteen hundred days away from getting a diploma. I spent most of my freshman year just trying to pull through the next exam, the next project, the next all-nighter. I strained to catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. I can finally see the outline of the tunnel’s end so clearly – and now, it greets me with nostalgia and sadness instead of relief.

It’s true when they say that experiences are what you make of it. From the moment I had walked through the school doors, I had made up my mind that I hated high school. I was so fixated on the stress and challenges that they had become perpetual, drowning out the laughs shared with friends in the cafeteria, the simple victories in conquering math problems, and the humor in the catastrophes we’d cook up in chemistry. I had spent half of my high school experience wallowing in self-pity and pessimism.

But I look forward to making the next half different.

Instead of being so fixated on the distance from the future, I hope to savor every memory that brings me closer there. I look forward to screaming my lungs out at swim meets and football games instead of crossing out boxes on my calendar. I look forward to diving into the unknown and forcing myself out of my comfort zone in the engineering workshop and onto the expanses of the internet. I look forward to a high school experience defined not by a stubborn desperation but by an appreciation for the fleeting memories.