My Junior Year

May 9, 2008
By My-Lan Le, Indianapolis, IN

My junior year began in August of 2007 and is coming to a close in May of 2008. A long year, this has been. It has seen me through so much; you couldn’t pay me enough to go through it all again. I’ve been so stressed out by everything this year, from preparing for the band competition to struggling to understand Spanish… Yet, I look back through bittersweet eyes- I’ve learned so much and I’m glad for the experience, but I’m ready for this school year to end.

When this school year began, I thought it would be just like my sophomore year- same old apathy, same old nonchalance. It was “back to the old grind” again…

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Immediately, I noticed the difference. Whereas I hadn’t had to put much thought into schoolwork before, teachers weren’t holding hands anymore. I was accustomed to teachers simply tossing answers around, but, in this new year, I found that I was being challenged to think, a concept that was as foreign to me as the Spanish language.

I’ve come a long way since then. Although, by nature, learning comes easily to me, I have learned how to learn by different means. I discovered that, as humans, we are always learning and growing, but that doesn’t mean that we have to process new information the same way every time.

Honestly, throughout the course of the year, I was more stressed about personal issues than schoolwork. However, the one subject in school that did frustrate me to no end was English. Seemingly unfortunate for me, I was assigned an English teacher that actually did their job for the first time since my high school career began… I was required to write more than I ever have before. English was perhaps the one class I both loved and hated.

I’ll interrupt myself for a moment to explain that, increasingly as of late (at the start of the school year), I’d been losing my convictions. I seriously lacked purpose and had misplaced my sense of identity. I didn’t know who I was or where I was going; only that I was afraid of my own shadow.

Things began to change when, in my most hated/loved class, I was introduced to personal essays. I was asked to write an essay about a belief that I held close to my heart. A teacher wanted to know what I thought? Impossible. I couldn’t believe it… I’d been asked to think for myself once again…

I thought, so I wrote… and wrote… and wrote.

Just from writing that essay, my horizons had been expanded. My feelings about writing had changed and my ability to think and learn had been transformed. This was the beginning of an evolution of person, as well as a revolution for growth.

Since many of my assignments questioned my opinions, I had to think about opening myself up. I had to open myself up in order to answer the questions, meaning, I had to share my innermost thoughts. I didn’t like the idea too much, but…

It was a bitter and painful process. Slowly, I began to pour more and more of myself into my writing, and when the teacher wasn’t editing my work, I was ripping it apart myself, and then reconstructing.

Perhaps the hardest assignment I’ve been given this year was writing a poetry book. Putting the book together wasn’t hard once I had the poems written… and that was the hard part. I’d never prided myself on my ability to write poetry in the first place, but here was yet another assignment that forced me to unlock the gates of my mind and cross the threshold of my thoughts. I took a trip (an unpleasant trip, I might add) down memory lane. While I was writing, more often than not, I fought the tears that threatened to spill over my lashes, if, for no other reason, than to keep my mascara from running. More than once, I succumbed to emotion, and, for the first time, I allowed the tears to flow.

I must admit, I never imagined writing could be so hard. Even though the words flow freely through the ink of my pen, they come with a price. What makes writing hard, believe it or not, is not the usage of proper English or even the construction of a decent sentence, but the thought behind those words and what emotions charge them. Words have a power I never even knew existed before; I actually pity myself for not knowing until now.

Even now, I balance on the brink of tears, frustrated with my writing. I struggle to, one day, make my writing sound as quixotic as I imagine it to be; to epitomize my thoughts as they should sound.

I have always been a linguistic learner, but before this year, writing never taught me anything. Not only have I matured as a writer, but as a person as well. I now see my pen as an extension of my mind, and through writing, I am able to see the world from many different perspectives. Now that I think about it, my junior year may have been composed by suffering, but that very same despair has given me a gift that has given my anguish meaning. I wouldn’t go back and change anything- I’ve done the best I could. Although this past year has proven significant, I would never do it again if given the choice.

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