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Last Senior Year

March 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Hello high school senior self,

You probably checked the mail today waiting for college decisions, not for a random check-in from your future self. But it’s now been 55 years from the Tibetan uprising, 208 years since the Louisiana Purchase. A good time for some metaphysical assurance, right? So here’s where we are now. 

You know a bunch of awesome people you didn’t know existed. You’ve had the chance to really study philosophy, something you were starting to be interested in but didn’t quite know how to pursue. You grew out the bangs. You can throw a Frisbee much better, and you’ve learned how to run on ice.

You finally own a college sweatshirt for somewhere you got into and actually attend. But you also own a bunch of clothing from other colleges, and that’s been OK too. Your clothing is in worse shape in some ways. You’ve lost a sweatshirt and ring and a sheet and a lot of socks. You never did get an iron, and you can’t seem to find the time to hem stuff or repair holes. You also, though, get pretty much unlimited access to your roommate’s cute skirts, so that’s a plus. You care about all of it a little bit less.

You’re a lot less anxious about anything involving alcohol. Whether you drink or not, and whether other people do or don’t seems much less like an issue. You can no longer remember how to knit, but you can play pool OK. For better or for worse, you’re less self-conscious about your dancing.

You’re much better about starting papers early and not panicking the night before something is due. You spend significantly more time on school work, but it’s OK. You understand much better how to approach a problem or a text, and you feel much more like you’re in dialogue with what you’re working on.

Your technology, since it is the same, is significantly more outdated, but you also have more numbers in your phone and more emails in your inbox than you ever did in high school.

You still know a lot of adults you trust—maybe more. You spend significantly more time in libraries. You eat less Mexican food. You eat more peanut butter. You’ve learned how to use a microwave, and that salespeople are not impressed when you’ve memorized the number for bulk items and so you should just suck it up and write it on the twisty-tie. You drink more coffee, and now know what espresso is and why it is difficult to make at home.

Your writing has gotten clearer and less self-conscious, though you’re not as familiar with the intricacies of English grammar and your Latin has probably gone significantly downhill.  On the upside, you now know French, which is crazy, and you spent last weekend Skyping with a random family you were placed with in Paris who you now deeply care about.

Your relationship with your parents is different. Last senior year, Mom and Dad let go because they were still holding on; they knew that you would be back to eat and sleep. Now they hold on because that’s not true anymore; they send you food and pillowcases, even though you all know that’s not the reason you continue to speak to each other. Dad read your common app essay. Now he’s trying to understand your comps. Three of your best friends here have Mom’s cell phone number.

Since you’re still taking math, you call your brother and complain about algebra. You miss just hanging out with him, but you’ve gotten pretty good at texting. You miss watching TV on Sunday mornings. You have the numbers of his friends and you text them too. You miss your dog. You still visit your high school teachers. You still talk to your high school friends.

You care way less when Mom changes the furniture. Your room feels like a relic for the first three days when you get back, and then it’s just the place where you’re sleeping and a whole bunch of your stuff still is. You are still exactly as much a part of your family as you were. You still listen to Taylor Swift and you still love driving around at night. You still cook really weird things and make terrible puns.

You think of the US, and the world, in much broader terms. Almost every state or major city is familiar now because you know someone who has lived there. You harbor a new affection for the Midwest. You know now that where you are from is not where you need to end up.

You’re still waiting to figure out what you’re doing next year, and with your life, in general. But if you, past self, are any indication, it should turn out just fine.


  • March 11 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Rachel, this is just lovely. If only we all could hear such wonderful things from our future selves! It would be profoundly reassuring.

  • April 15 2013 at 8:42 pm

    It is also profoundly reassuring for a mom (not your mom, here, but another student's mom) to know that a student knows why mom hangs on, understands it, and doesn't mind too terribly much.

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