It certainly doesn’t feel like four years since I was strutting into the high school on my first day of freshman year. While I’ve tried to repress certain memories from the puberty asylum (known as middle school) and a few years thereafter, even a moderate dose of reflection provides me with some appreciation for where I am today.
Academically, it feels like I’ve been here barely a few weeks: each repetitive routine played itself out for a year, and the next year was simply a different daily routine, rather than nine months of new experiences. As far as school itself, I’ve only lived four different days in the last four years: one routine for each grade. Academically, any single day in the last four years was just as useless (or useful) to me as another day lived in that year’s routine.
For almost every lunch in the last four years you could unzip my black backpack (messenger bag if it was freshman year) and pull out a brown lunch bag. In the lunch bag, you would find a ham sandwich. On the first day of freshman year my adolescent appetite needed anything it could get, and the ham sandwich was fine. Eventually, though, maybe around the 281st ham sandwich, I lost my enthusiasm for what was once a significant choice to me.
Essentially, my practiced routines overshadowed the initial choices I made to create those routines. I no longer eat a ham sandwich every day, but I do choose to eat a ham sandwich every day. Self-awareness can serve as an antidote to the tiresome effects of routine.
When I realized I had lost all enthusiasm for that once so ideal sandwich, I realized that I could not genuinely blame anyone but myself. I was the one who defrosted those two whole-wheat slices of bread each day and methodically laid down the four pieces of honey-smoked ham, stratifying the curvature to ensure equal distributi… never mind. The point is, nobody forced me to eat/hate the sandwich, it was a choice I made myself.
Hopefully you realize this is not necessarily about my lunch. As the class of 2013 departs, I continue to hear lamentations about how West Jessamine High has ruined our last four years, and that we can finally move on to something better.
I beg to differ.
Those who haven’t enjoyed the last four years will be, at best, hopeless when they “move on” to a period with more powerful authorities, larger groups of conformists, and more consequences at stake for their own futures. At some point, you’ve got to find a way to enjoy your ham sandwich.