Trails lead to revelation, independence is key

Claire Shifflett, Staff Reporter

From freshman to senior year, high school has been the best and the worst years of my life so far.
In the beginning, people told me that by senior year, I would have a solid group of friends and a happy head on my shoulders. As freshman year cruised along, I already felt comfortable with the friends that I’d made so quickly. I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Most of all, I was happy. I walked to and from school and was amused by the gang of smokers that would lurk at the base of the “black path.” Little things didn’t bother me. I felt that I already had it all figured out.
The onset of sophomore year was something I was completely unprepared for. In middle school, even if I didn’t have classes with my friends, I still saw them often. This was different. The pals that I had had as of freshmen year were now nowhere to be found in the spacious new building. In addition, I was left in the dust of the iPhone craze, meaning that my friends no longer existed in my life at all, not even virtually. Nowadays, I can keep in touch with the people that I don’t see in person through the convenience of iMessage and Twitter, but sophomore year, my friends dropped like flies. I did manage to introduce myself to other people, but due to conflicting interests and schedules, I barely kept in contact with anyone.
By junior year, I started associating with people differently. I no longer expected anyone to become close with me, so I treated most people as acquaintances. With a grand total of three boyfriends coming in and out of my life during my last two years of high school, I kept myself occupied in relationships without the omnipresence of friendships. Junior year was also academically difficult, but unlike in previous years, I didn’t really mind. The extra work kept me occupied, and that willingness to tackle the tasks I was given continued on into my senior year—that is, until a lonely late autumn.
November, 2015, was probably the worst month of my life so far. I hit rock bottom in several aspects of my life; the comedic television show Parks and Recreation kept my spirits from lagging too heavily. It sounds sad, I know, but in the end, it was the month of high school that shaped my character the most. November, 2015, taught me how to continue to thrive in high school entirely on my own despite an incredible lack of socialization in my classes. I came home every day to a happy greeting from a loving dog; I told my parents all about my days in detail. All in all, I found some of the sweetest comfort in simply being at home and by myself or with my family. In December, I went to Canada with lots of kids from schools all around Northern Virginia, and it was the last big group experience I allowed myself to have for a while. Developing my independence was critical to the happiness that I possess now, and it will continue to carry me into college where it will likely become even more important.
So, here I am today amidst a chilly and rainy May. I’m taking life as it comes and enjoying my final days as a real kid. The weather, I feel, is symbolic—it demonstrates that high school was hard for me. The feeling of being in and out of a mental fog was always prevalent. But did I mention that I love the rain? It’s so refreshing. It washes away the impurities of the world and encourages us to embrace a new tomorrow. Despite all of the little bad things (and the bigger bad things, yes) that I stumbled upon in the past four years, there was so much good to be found just by picking myself back up. I may not have established a single solid group of friends, but I’m thankful for the ones that came and went, as well as the few that stuck around. In the end, what I did establish were my own roots within myself. Thank you, Fauquier. I didn’t plan on missing you as much as I know I will.