High School Doesn’t Have to End

I hated waking up at 6 AM, but I loved shooting the shit with my friends for 40 minutes on the bus. You’d never see me not wearing headphones. Music and I had a symbiotic relationship. Still do. I’d sit on the tarmac of our sports field and listen to music for 30 minutes, waiting for school to begin. I soaked in the atmosphere, waving at the folks I knew as they passed by.

High school was learning. It was engaging. With ideas. With people. There was a room for each subject and, more importantly, room to breathe. To eat. To take a break. To connect. And when you went home? You were pretty much done. At least I was. It was life on a schedule, and it was a good one.

Of course, high school was not without troubles. There were spats, fights, and heartbreak. Growth rarely comes without pain. But it was all so…idealistic. Each disagreement, each reconciling, and every stand we took – as a class against a teacher, as friends against one another, as individuals for a dream – they all meant the world to us because, whether we had life figured out our not, and usually we didn’t, we took those stands for the right reasons.

Looking back, the one word I can think of is “innocent.” Its synonyms also apply: Honest. Pure. Virtuous. That’s what we were. We weren’t perfect, but we’ll never be, so high school was, as best as I can tell, as good as it gets. My head and heart were in the right place, and I rarely had to stop to consider what’s just and honorable. I don’t think my gut has grown weaker, I just second-guess it more than I used to. If that’s what growing up is, I’m not sure we should do it.

I have a million heroes, most of them fictitious, and the more I think about them, the more I believe the teenaged ones are the strongest. There are Harry, Ron, and Hermione. There’s Ash Ketchum, the DigiDestined, and the Elric brothers. There’s Santiago from The Alchemist, Peter Parker from Spiderman, Katniss from The Hunger Games – all teenagers, not always lighthearted but forever determined – to live true to themselves, make their dreams come true, and help everyone around them along the way.

I have decided to go back to this life, at least in spirit. Less fretting, you know? More music. “No one can predict the future, so it’s pointless to fear the unknown,” Yoh Asakura from Shaman King says.

Grown-ups always tell us we have to grow up, but maybe they’re just saying that because they did and found it was a mistake, so now they don’t want to be alone in their mistakenness. I, for one, prefer to choose love, dreams, and the idealistic shades of youth. Who says those can’t last forever?

That’s another thing teenagers don’t believe in: Good things ending. “If you start to think it’s impossible, then you’ve already admitted defeat,” Yoh says. And then he goes and does the impossible. And so will I. See you tomorrow morning on the bus.