Looking back: high school in 20-20

April 28, 2012 — by Anshu Siripurapu
South Pacific

Anshu played a lead role in the spring musical "South Pacific."


It seems like only yesterday that I was standing in a line of just-graduated eighth graders to pick up my freshman course schedule, flush with the excitement .



It seems like only yesterday that I was standing in a line of just-graduated eighth graders to pick up my freshman course schedule, flush with the excitement of starting a new chapter of my life, one that I was sure would be filled with adventure, stress, friendship and opportunity. 

Now, just a couple of short months away from graduation, I find myself experiencing the senior’s paradox of simultaneously wanting and not wanting to leave, excited to go off to college and reluctant to leave the home I’ve come to love.
My goal coming into high school was to seize every opportunity, and for the most part I succeeded. I got involved in student government, music, debate, drama and, of course, writing for this illustrious publication. In doing so, I got to take advantage of the immense resources our campus has to offer, I got to meet new people almost every day and I collected a treasure trove of cherished memories.
I think that would be the most important piece of advice I could give to the lucky among you who still have a few more years to enjoy here. Sometimes students enter high school believing it to be a long and dark tunnel with the light of college at the end, already planning an exit strategy. It is so easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget the simple truth: At the end of the day, the four years you spend here are four years of your life you will never get back.
There are so many unique opportunities here that you may never get to experience again. I may never again have the chance to perform with a 220-member marching band, act on a stage as beautiful as the McAfee Center, or write for a Pulitzer-worthy newspaper, and I am so glad I took the chance when it was given to me.
That being said, a certain level of prudence is necessary to avoid the other extreme of severe overcommitment. There were times when I felt that I couldn’t devote myself to any one activity because I had so much going at on at any given time. If given a second chance at high school, I might choose to scale back my involvement to enjoy a deeper involvement in the activities I loved the most. But if one is to err, better to err on the side of overcommitment than to regret a missed opportunity later on.
So have some fun. Join the club you’ve always wanted to, play a sport, act in a play, run for office, join newspaper, pick up an instrument, sing in the choir. SHS is your oyster. Live your life so that 10 years from now your sentences begin with “I remember when…” instead of “I wish I had…”
With respect to college, don’t let your Ivy League ambition serve as a template for your high school experience. Of course you should work hard and do your best, but there is little sense in giving up four years of your life for an admission that is more chance than anything else. My advice is to experience high school with no regrets, and then the college that you get into is the college that is right for you, regardless of whether it ends in “rd” or not.
And, above all, just breathe. You are  only in high school. My life was a lot more manageable once I understood that. The decisions we make now will probably not have the life-changing ramifications we imagine them to have. Shocking as it may seem, getting a B+ is not an accurate predictor of homelessness.
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