My final day of high school is approaching in just a few days. For 12 years I’ve worked both explicitly and implicitly toward this day, never really thinking about what exactly happens when it comes. After countless nights of studying, hours of sleep lost, and marching band rehearsals and cross country practices endured, the amount of days I have left in school (before college) can be counted on a single hand. By the time this article is published, I’ll need one less digit. By the time many of you read this, I might not need any digits at all.
This concept of finality is not unique, and I’ve experienced similar instances before. Last year, I moved away from the school district I attended for most of my life. In the move, I was torn away from athletic teams, musical ensembles, and friend groups that meant the world to me. My final day at Carroll High School felt empty and surreal. Nothing around me physically changed, but the knowledge that life in those halls would continue whether or not I was there to witness it pushed me to realize the scale of reality.
I am miniscule in a world that doesn’t wait.
Students would continue to go to class, the distance runners would continue to sneak snowball fights into track practices, the jazz cats would continue to not Bb, and the school and everything I was a part of would continue to exist, effectively, the same way, with or without me.
It was an empty feeling, not fully expressed by the cliché “all good things must come to an end,” but still somewhere along those lines. However, that isn’t to say that the message was only solemn.
Life may have continued to exist at Carroll, indifferent of my inexistence, but it existed everywhere else too. I arrived at Cypress Bay High School and discovered a bustling community marked by diversity and individuality. The college-like campus, full of activity and people (nearly 5,000 of them) immediately engulfed me and, again, I was existing in existence, and I was part of a world that would see me again the next day.
Of course, it was still cold for a while. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t sit with anyone during lunch, I didn’t talk to anybody in the halls, but regardless, I was still living in a place where my existence, as insignificant as it was, was integral to the day to day life. If I didn’t come to school the next day, it would go on some sort of record, and that wouldn’t happen anywhere else anymore.
Slowly, I started to fight that insignificance. I made friends in physics, I made good relationships with my teachers, and I started to play more in band. Quickly enough, my brother and I started putting together what would have been a jazz combo with some immensely talented musicians we had met at the school. We started playing standards like “Blue Bossa,” but it was clear that the group would follow a different path, and our jazz combo naturally developed into a rock/jazz/fusion group we call The Pepper. Now this band is the best part of my day to day life, whether or not we’re performing every day, and I cherish every moment I get to spend with them and foster a musical connection so intimate and unique that it can’t be replicated anywhere else.
This couldn’t have happened without first overcoming finality. Becoming insignificant in the halls of a building I grew to love led me to find passion in a group I never knew could exist. I love Carroll dearly and it will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s important to know that leaving the school, leaving everything I knew, by no means meant leaving myself.
Life goes on everywhere, not just where you’re leaving, and not just where you’re going. Every goodbye is a chance to say hello, somewhere, in some facet.
My high school career ends in a handful of days and even though life will go on here when I leave, life will go on for me wherever I go as well and, if you’re a graduating senior (and if you’re not), life will go on for you too.