As a junior who is now preparing to start applying to colleges and suddenly having to think about going out into the real world at some point in the not-so-distant future, I have recently been reflecting on what experiences have shaped me into the person that I am today -- into the person who will shortly have to navigate their way through the so called, "real world".

Obviously, many of my most memorable moments in recent years have taken place in high school, but taking a moment to look back on high school so far quickly led me to realizing how rapidly it is going by. Yes, I know I still have over a year and a half of high school left, but it still feels like I should have more time that that left. It is like I woke up one day and suddenly, I was a junior. What??

Honestly, I do not feel much older (or wiser, for that matter) than the wide-eyed fourteen-year-old who walked into the high school over two years ago. I feel even less of a difference from last year. I still have tight group of girlfriends. I still like math better than social studies. I might have gotten a little taller and hopefully a little less awkward, but not much else has changed besides the dates flying by on the calendar.

From this stark realization, I have concluded that I need to slow down. I spend every second of every waking hour occupied by someone or something; there is always a new task straining for my attention, ready to be tackled. I wake up, go to school, attend clubs, grind my way through sports practices, painstakingly complete my homework and study for innumerable quizzes and tests, and then go to sleep a frazzled mess. Then, I get to wake up and rush through that routine all over again. As a result of always being so stimulated in my daily life, I never have the opportunity to sit down and soak in what is going on around me. I am always preoccupied by the to-do list in the back of my head constantly rambling off the next activity or I am scheduled to cross off the list.

If I do not slow down at some point, or at least figure out a way to wiggle some breathing room into my crazy schedule, I am afraid my remaining time in high school will fly by without me even realizing it is gone.

And it is not so much that I am focused on the future as opposed to what I may be doing right now, it is more so that I am focused on the wrong things right now. I need to be more contentious of my surrounding and remember to stop and smell the roses, whether figuratively or literally, more often, and I recommend you do the same, regardless of whether or not you see your life flashing past you at the same breakneck speed mine I do.

I do not want my time in high school to be over yet. It is not over yet. I want to enjoy it while it lasts.