Stevenson Spotlight 2.0 | One Last Time
Posted on 06/06/2016
Stevenson Spotlight 2.0Editor's Note: In her final piece for the Stevenson Spotlight 2.0, senior columnist Autumn Miller bids Stevenson and the familiarity of high school life a fond farewell.  Hop in the car and go along with the drive.

We thank Autumn for her hard work this year and wish her the best of luck as she pursues her career in journalism.

One Last Time
by Autumn Miller ('16)

Dateline: June 4, 2016 -- Livonia, MI
Ever since I passed my road test (which is still a shocker) and snagged my license around a year or so ago, I have always found relief in taking my car out for a cruise down Hines Drive. Endless amounts of money have fled my pockets thanks to this obsession, but it never became a dire issue. Spending an afternoon with just me, my car, and my music, with all the time in the world (or a half hour) to think and not feel pressure to check my phone became a sort of comforting norm that I valued, and continue to value constantly. Being the day after Graduation, along with being someone who was born with more thoughts than needed for a lifetime, I figured today constituted another adventure with me and my friend, Mr. Subaru Forester. Maybe it was the drizzly dreariness of it all, or maybe it was the fact that I no longer have to punch my locker every time it didn’t cooperate, but I came to the realization that I’m really, really not fond of change. At all.

    I used to pride myself on the fact that I could take whatever life threw at me. Moving out of my first house that held all memories for six years of my life? Bring it. Having to switch schools when the background of my childhood, Tyler Elementary, was shut down? Not a big deal. But today when I faced the normalcy of the twists and turns that I became so accustomed to when I passed near downtown Plymouth while driving down my favorite route, I realized that one of the most constant things in my life ended yesterday with a handshake and diploma. This change rocked my outlook in no way that anything in my life has before, and I came to the conclusion that maybe I’m not as good at riding roller coasters as I thought I was.

    Having to go to the same place almost every day for four years, during three seasons, naturally develops into a routine. In the beginning, when you start off low on the totem pole as a freshman, you know just as much about astrophysics as you know about who you are. You constantly stress about the magnifying glass that seems to detail your every move, while still making sure to deck yourself out in double blue and white on every Spirit Day so everyone can see you.  Finding friends who will treat you with a little bit of dignity all while facing the impending doom that is your first set of finals (don’t worry, you didn’t end up failing your World History exam like you predicted) sum up the entirety of 9th grade. Once sophomore year comes, you begin to get into a groove which was so foreign 365 days ago. I mean, you’re a sophomore! You’re no longer the immediate target of the brawny seniors (especially the ones with facial hair). You begin to learn the ups and downs of the school, from knowing that the lunch bathrooms are easily the cleanest to the way that you can spare yourself time between classes by cutting through the A Hall corridors. Now that you’ve entered 10th grade, you can blend in more, and at the age of 16, that’s all that anyone could ever hope for, right?

    Once junior year enters in full stride, you now understand the meaning of feeling on top of the world to only seconds later- falling off the edge of it. You likely have your license and are free from the 24-hour reign of your parents, and you finally get to smack the title of “Upperclassman” on your forehead. You’ve done your sort of “High School Networking” and have established your teacher connections for future recommendation letters. You know who your friends are and are comfortable in the clubs you’ve joined, but you also battle the worries dealing with the ACT and the infinite amount of college apps that you’ll be filling out at a busy Starbucks the summer ahead. At this point, life is going by fast, and it doesn’t plan on slowing down, and you’re just beginning to realize this difficult fact.

    Like the lilacs in your childhood home’s garden that your nose has grown to know the past 18 years, senior year seems to bloom out of nowhere. After three long years of waiting, you’re finally the king, but you never thought about the repercussions of wearing the crown.  You’ve been warned about it endless times before, but you’re finally experiencing your infinite parade of lasts- last Homecoming football game, last post-dance sundaes with your best friends, last time sprinting to the lot after 6th hour to beat the traffic. All while you’re trying to swallow down these finalities, you’re also preparing for a new beginning. You’ve been scouring high and low for a roommate on Facebook for your freshman year of college, and you’ve warned your parents about when they’ll need their tissues for your Orientation Day. You’re leaving all you’ve learned to venture into a new area in a matter of three months, and you’ve realized that the 12th grade is nothing but a paradox. Happiness is coupled with sadness, anticipation is paired with dread, and contentment is matched with regret. You can finally describe the flavor of bittersweet, and you’re hit with the fact that after four years of readying yourself for Graduation Day, you’re not really ready at all. 

    We become used to our habits and cling to them during years where life seems to shake itself up at any chance it gets. When the one constant thing in life that many of us have become experts in pulls itself out from under the rug beneath us in an instance, we regress back down to scared little kids who view the world as a place filled with monsters and unknown territories. Whether you liked high school or not, sudden changes from steady ground are never smooth. The years ranging from freshman to senior year not only hold memories inside of Stevenson but also in your favorite diners that you and your friends would visit at 2 AM and parks that hold your beloved set of swings since you were eight years old. The youth that we’ve come to know extends much farther beyond an educational facility, and moving beyond these parameters is incredibly intimidating.

    Being an 18-year old who claims to know it all, I’m sure of the fact that, while I’ve enjoyed getting to know the ins and outs of high school the past four years, there’s only so much that one can discover before reaching a stalemate. Before entering Stevenson, I was petrified about leaving middle school and having to attend a place that had not one, but two cafeterias. Before that, I never thought I’d be happy outside of Coolidge Elementary because I was already content with just being around my 50 some-odd classmates who played tag with me during 1st and 2nd recess. All throughout my adolescence, I was scared of the inevitable changes that were, in actuality, nothing to be scared about at all. Growing up and moving on are two surefire ways to achieve growth and an endless vat of knowledge, and these things can only happen when you let go of the fear of things you can’t change. 20 years from now, ranting in a bar about how high school held your glory days instead of making your future dreams, present realities (with the slightest tinge of nostalgia) - only holds you back.   Change is the opportunity to create memories that you’ll hold dear to your heart, much like parts of high school itself. 

Some of you may have been aching to get out of here, some of you may want to stay in your 4th hour AP Calc class forever, and most of you are probably somewhere in between, much like me. No matter what your current feelings are about moving on, know that the worries that you presently have will likely never reach the light of day. Contrary to the thoughts that rack your mind on an occasional sleepless night, you are going to turn out absolutely fine. You made it through four years with only a few bumps and bruises, and it’s likely that the next four years (and hopefully all of the years after that) will treat you even better. There’s a fine line between corniness and profoundness, and that’s where sincerity lies. I’d like to think that that’s where my thoughts, and yours, reside as well. Take in all new experiences with genuineness and a realistic viewpoint, and reflect on the past for what it actually was. I know the world is a wonderful and beautiful and mysterious place, but I also know that you, fellow members of the Stevenson Class of 2016, will confront whatever is thrown at you with only the bravest face. I’ve watched you all on the sidelines and up close during these last years of schooling, and you’ve never failed to crush it. I only expect you to keep it up this pattern of awesomeness years to come because the Spartan way is something that sticks for life.