Advice from a Senior

By: Laura Murphy

I’m not going to say it went by quickly.

To be honest, by the end of junior year, I felt as though my high school experience had stretched on for eons. How many Homecoming dances? How many paradigm shifts in the social universe? How many times had I passed the art showcases, the English wing, the Mark Twain quotes, the science wing posters, and the definition of a mole? How many times had I taken the same path to first period? Yet there are moments from each year that burn in my mind as the memories I will never abandon. The memories that I will continue to see long after I stop seeing these same classrooms every day.

I treated high school like a fresh sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper. At the start of freshman year, it felt like the rug had been pulled from beneath my feet and I no longer knew who I was. I felt out of place, unknown, and somewhat terrified. Terrified, but exhilarated. Treat this fresh page well, because your story becomes harder to change once you begin writing it.

As best you can, remember the moments.

High school:

An 8 1/2 by 11 blank page.

Pick your favorite pen,

With free-flowing ink,

And let the story paint the paper.

Interpret each splotch, each burst and bubble from the pen

like a Rorschach test,

Each mistake

As intentional,

A splotch that shapes your narrative–

These marks can be more important

Than the letters you write

Or those you

receive four times a year.

Write your introduction wisely,

As the story becomes harder to change after

The first facts are laid.

Hard, but not impossible.

Pick the characters in your story

Wisely– they should be stolid if you want them to appear

In all four paragraphs.

Don’t let the monotony of the story, the “meat of the sandwich,”

Your two body paragraphs,

Become formulaic.

They may be filled with acronyms galore,

SAT, ACT, NECAP, numerals, and scores,

But don’t lose sight of your point-

The thesis that gives you purpose.

Remember your voice as the author and remember your ambition.

Let your thesis guide you

Through every dialogue,

Through every trial,

And every tribulation.

May your story have no climax.

Let your thesis guide you to the conclusion,

Where you should ponder–but not dwell on–

your points and experiences anew.

Reflect on them, play with them, and distil out the meaning you wish them to have.

Always finish each story you start,

Especially this one.

And when you do,

Flip the paper over

And write a new one.  

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