This week, as I carefully looked over the 1,347 names and faces of area seniors featured in our annual graduation magazine, I was taken back to my “glory days.”
I wasn’t a wild child with a stream of rebellion in my blood, but I certainly enjoyed myself in high school.
I’ll never forget the days a few friends and I would head out to local Rotary Club meetings, as part of Interact, but then somehow never make it.
For some reason, our vehicles would take a mind of their own and deviate from the plan. Rather than hearing from a prestigious guest speaker, our vehicles would take us to Sonic for ice cream.
It was the darnedest thing.
To my friends in the Covington Rotary Club, you’ll be happy to know I do not have the same vehicle I owned then.
Now, skipping school wasn’t something I did on a regular basis. I mean, it’s kind of hard to do so when a parent works there, and I attended a school one-third the size of Eastside, so everyone knows your name. But the few times I did play hooky, I’ll always remember.
I’ll also cherish the fond memories of yearbook photo day of my senior year.
It was a busy day. Myself and two friends had made an effort to be in every club that year … well, kind of.
You see, we were really only a part of two or three clubs that met regularly. But if you were to look in the Douglas High School Class of 2012 yearbook, you’d find our young, ridiculous faces in every club photo.
But the fun didn’t stop there. No, sir. We had to take it a step further and make stupid faces while sitting on the back row.
We were out of place and eager to show it.
But, as most everyone knows, high school wasn’t all pranks, fun and games. While I remember many of the good times I was fortunate enough to have with friends, I also recall the sleepless nights of studying for exams and completing homework to keep my grades up. And also worrying about what other people thought of this or that.
I’ll never forget the anxiety I felt when deadlines for college applications rapidly approached — when my 17-year-old self was seemingly supposed to have the rest of my life figured out. I felt prepared yet incompetent at the same time.
But the truth is, I actually thought I had it all figured out. My 10-year plan was to graduate college in three years, become a billionaire and only work if I wanted. Marriage and kids were out of sight and out of mind.
During those fun adventures with friends, I remember often thinking “life can’t get much better than this.” Because, after all, my plan was flawless and everything I desired was going to come my way.
Oh, the mind of a naive teen.
I guess it’s too late to encourage seniors to not skip out on class like I did, but if I could share some advice to the Class of 2022, it would be to slow down and enjoy this moment, because it doesn’t last forever. But also, when the time is right, don’t be frightened to move forward.
Don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out. And even if you do, don’t be afraid to fail or change.
While I’m probably not quite old enough to be considered wise or owlish, I’ve discovered that in most cases your plan will only take you as far as the good Lord allows, and many times he’ll throw a curveball and change the plan on you. That’s what he did for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful, though my attitude was often sour about such changes at the time.
But it’s important to look to God for guidance, and never be too prideful or fearful to seek him for help. That was a piece of advice I received a few hours before my graduation, so to all of our area seniors, I pass it on to you.
Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.