A/N: I should probably say that I'm only going to be a senior in high school and have therefore never actually graduated from high school. This piece was based on how I imagine graduation must feel, how I feel about it just now, when I think about it, and how I felt when three of my closest friends graduated this year. One of these friends made a comment about her own reflection, thus inspiring me to write this.
My reflection looks weird today. I'm wearing a blue gown and a blue cap, with a gold tassel hanging off the side. My impossibly straight hair hangs limply below the sides of the cap, and my plain brown eyes hold a contradictory emotion—one of plaintive enthusiasm. I stare into the glass, observing the graduating girl who stares back at me. Four years of hard work, and I'm finally free from the prison they call high school. Fifteen years after the advent of preschool, I'm finished with school forever—excluding college, of course.
I tear my eyes away from the glass wall and look around at my fellow classmates—those who have suffered with me. We've lost some and gained some over the years, but for the most part, we are still the same class of three hundred that we were four years ago, when we were wee little freshmen. I can still remember my freshman year like it happened yesterday. I can vividly recall the anxiety I felt as I walked into my first class of my first day of high school.
My eyes single out my best friends whom I met in my freshman year. Kayla and Erica. I have no idea where I'd be without them. Before I met them, I had no idea what true friendship really was—my friends from middle school weren't as good friends as I thought they were. And now we're all going to three separate colleges. I'm attending college in the Midwest, in Michigan, Kayla is staying around here in the Mid-Atlantic region, and Erica is traveling down south, to North Carolina. I try imaging my life up in freezing cold Michigan, all by myself, without my two best friends, but instead find that the thought brings tears to my eyes. Looking back in the glass, my brown eyes now water slightly.
Of course, Kayla and Erica aren't my only friends. There are others whom I'd miss dearly—like Johnny, whom I grew closer to in my junior year, and Lauren, whom I've known since my sophomore year. And numerous others that it would take too long to name.
When the seniors graduated last year, it didn't feel like this. Then again, I wasn't as close with those people as I am with these classmates surrounding me. I wasn't wearing a cap and gown last year, waiting for Pomp and Circumstance to begin, waiting to march down the aisle as parents snap pictures. Waiting for my future, for my life in college. For my last summer before college, relaxing by the pool and by the ocean.
My reflection stares unblinkingly back at me as my train of thought switches to the future. The future is what scares me the most. What's going to happen to me in the next five years? The next three years? The next one year? Where will I be when I complete my freshman year in college? With whom will I be friends? Will Kayla, Erica, and I still talk? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I have the same major? Will I be attending a different college in the fall? Will I fit in at my college?
My mind whirls off into a whole tangent about the future until I force myself to stop and focus on the present. The here and the now. The girl who keeps looking at me in the mirror—myself. The people—my classmates—standing idly around me and chatting. The teachers who will never teach me again, lining up and waiting to walk in.
Pomp and Circumstance starts inside the auditorium, and the line of graduating seniors shifts as people walk in two by two, side by side with a person whom they very well may never see again. I take small steps at the line shuffles forward, coming closer and closer to the final minutes of my high school career.
Four years of hard work have come down to this. To this moment. To here. To now. Who knows what the future holds? This is it. Everything I've ever worried about is done and over with. High school is finished forever. Soon, I'll no longer be in high school. Soon, I'll be a freshman in college.
It's my turn to walk in. I end up next to Danny Feldman, a nice boy I rarely talked to, preparing for my march. The two in front of us take off down the aisle, into the sea of smiling parents and flashing lights. It's almost time. The moment is almost here.
The ushers whisper for Danny and me to go, giving us little pushes on the back. We start to walk slowly, basking in the glory, grinning in the flashing camera lights, carefully avoiding our parents' eyes. We are independent now. We are free. We are almost college freshmen. We have the entire future ahead of us.
No one can stop us now.