13 Years. All Done.

Today was, unofficially, my last day of school. I wish I had the writing ability to reflect beautifully on some of the more crucial things I’ve learned over these past four years, but I don’t think I do.

But I’m going to try anyway.

I’m always surprised at how much I’ve changed from the Jyncos-wearing, picnic-table-top-in-the-quad-dancing, violent, and vulgar freshman I was. I no longer sing or dance in public, I wear my jeans plain, and I’m a little less violent, although my friends from freshman year still flinch occasionally when they think they’ve angered me.

I’ve gained weight, inhibitions, and more fears.

I’ve become more introspective, and lost a lot of confidence in my academic abilities.

I’ve had one (1) boyfriend who was quite confused about his sexuality. I quickly became embarrassed by and bored of him and planted the seed in his head that it should end.

I’ve let my temper kill friendships, some of which I feel I am better without, some of which I miss terribly, but lack the courage to rectify.

I’ve still never asked a guy out, despite several crushes and a something-more-than-a-crush. I still have no idea how to classify the latter, although it hardly matters in any practical sense, as it’s all in my head and I’m moving ten hours away from him.

I’ve lost my certainty about my future career in the process of picking up new interests.

I know I lack focus; I used to be just as cut-throat as the top International Baccalaureate students at my school, willing to cheat, lie, and devastate lives to get to the top.

I’m much more cynical now, and yet more accepting of certain givens. I’ve gone from violent atheist to nodding agnostic that understands too many viewpoints to be able to have all that passion in a religious debate.

There’s less at stake for me now, in so many ways.

I worry that I’m becoming more common–and I am. This same fear made me change my college dreams from M.I.T., which was a goal I’ve worked towards since childhood, not imposed by my parents, to a smaller, lesser-known tech school where I won’t be automatically put on a pedestal by those that see my Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

I fear responsibility much, much more.

I’ve become much more automatically accepting of racial stereotypes than I used to be; I’ve seen many, many more people that fit those molds than are exceptions.

I’ve become a little more political, capable of watching/listening to a news broadcast once every month and understanding enough of the terms to get a picture of what’s going on. I’ve also become much more critical of the liberal and conservative labels and stereotypes. People, even politicians, who reveal only a single aspect of their personality to the public, are not cut with a cookie-cutter.

I still hate cameras, although now more than ever.

I’ve discovered that there is not a single insult that can be thrown at me that I haven’t applied to myself at some point, even if not recently.

I think about boys now more than I did four years ago. Alas, if wishes were horses…

I’ve started using words and prefixes like “über”, “tee-niny”, and “alas” in everyday speech, along with phrases like “Get thee to a nunnery!” and the word “sexy” like Holden Caufield does in Catcher in the Rye.

I no longer automatically classify women, and in particular my peers, as back-stabbing bitches that should never be told anything personal.

I gained, and promptly lost, for the most part, the ability to keep a secret.

I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with my family–we don’t make many demands on each other anymore.

I’ve become a vegetarian, for reasons even I can’t explain anymore, but I have no major reason to change as of yet and don’t miss meat much at all.

I’ve learned to take everything a teacher says with quite a large grain of salt–most feel they have to make sure they maintain a certain image, and it’s crucial to understand both what that image entails and to what lengths they will go to maintain it. Just like everyone else.

I don’t automatically associate music with culture now–and promptly found I could, in fact, stand rap music.

I’ve become much more of a romantic; I think books like Jane Eyre are sweet, if idyllic, and the adulterous relationship in Patricia Cornwell’s books is entertaining.

I can read about sex, but I can’t stand to watch it. I’m fairly certain there’s a psychological connection there with the different types of input… or something… but all I own are pop-psychology books.

I’ve developed a deep, deep phobia of joint injury. I cringe to see women bend their knees backward when standing, and panic when my knuckles occasionally lock up on me, even for a second. I can’t even read about something as simple as how joints are composed without squirming, and you might as well forgo telling me the details of injuries.

I’m surprised that I haven’t become more or less extroverted over the years. Both the surprise and the lack of change indicate something to me… I’m just not sure exactly what that is… Growth is supposed to be an ongoing process, right?

I’ve discovered just how much more my race matters to others than it matters to me; friends, family, businesses, strangers–it seems the world wants me to fit one of those stereotypes I mentioned previously. And, of course, everyone must remark very loudly how cool it is that I don’t fit the mold.

I’ve learned that I am actually capable of seriously wishing someone ill will. On one level, I don’t like that I can sink to that level, that I can get so angry at an individual (or three) that I can sincerely hope that they fail in life and experience many, many kinds of hurt. On another level… I accept that I feel that way, and rarely do I have much luck deliberately changing how I feel without changing the underlying thoughts… and it’s much easier to hate, in this case.

Is this how I wrap up the last four years of my secondary education? Slink away with (potentially) three diplomas and write about what I learned? This isn’t what I signed up for.