At this time, nearly a decade ago, I was constantly looking out the window in anticipation. Wanting to know when I could escape the confines of school, of my home and to finally venture out into the unknown.
It wasn't that I disliked high school or that I "hated" Webster City - but at times, I sure acted like it. I was ready for graduation and the next steps in this dance they call life. A graduation speech I had written revolved around the things I would miss and wouldn't from my senior class peers - as if I had room to talk. And every cliched phrase that was uttered seemed profound. Things about following your dreams, taking the path less traveled, crossing bridges, streams, oceans, whatever - it was all about a senior (namely me) graduating.
So in all my teenage angst - I gave a flippant 'goodbye' to the town I had always called home. I went to college, traveled - and what do you know, I ended up back here. Maybe I won't be here for the rest of my life, but it's nice to prove my high school self wrong.
I have heard recently from some seniors that they will not miss this part of their life. This is my advice to them: The grass is always greener on the other side. It's true. After some real growing up time - which I'm not done doing yet - I have come to the realization that every moment, every person, has somewhat shaped my life into what it is now. High school isn't just a stepping-stone to something better. It's so much more.
From your first relationship to its bittersweet demise. The arguments you had with a friend, and the laughter following forgiveness. The trips taken, the lessons shared - it's the start of maturity and growth. Like learning to ride a bike, you have to start somewhere. And a lot of firsts happen during the high school transition.
Especially now, I realize that the people that had been in my life during my growing up years had an immense hand in my growth.
When I pick up a book and find myself becoming immersed in the text, I first think of Cleone Menage who taught me the love of books. When it comes to selflessness and truly knowing the meaning of "love your neighbor" - I look in the direction of the Rev. Jack Flaherty. To open your mind, be free of judgment and to embrace life, Marcus Fuhrman is that person. Definitely one of the coolest people to have ever stepped foot on this planet. To push myself and know that I can expect more - I can thank Bob Doerning for that. He knew that there was higher potential when I couldn't see it. When I need to persevere and find the courage that is within, Coach Tony Bussan first showed me where that gumption lay. And those parents of mine - are the ones most taken for granted. They have taught me about unconditional love, good humor and getting through the tough stuff. And I have finally fully embraced the concept of family - those people are the ones I can depend on, through all of what life throws in my direction.
So go, graduate. Do something great, something unexpected. I hope your life is everything that you have wished it to be. But don't turn your back on where you came from. If it was bad or if it was extremely good - it's where you started. And that won't ever change.