Something New This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   About six months ago, I graduated from high school. Iwaited a long time for that day. I had joined countless clubs, hoping they wouldhelp speed me through. I went to football games and dances. My friends and Ipulled the traditional pranks on underclassmen and random students who happenedby at the wrong time. I resisted my teachers and parents and pushed them to theedge. We all grew up a little at a time, never realizing the whole picture thatlay before us, not seeing what everyone was really all about.

It startedin kindergarten, the first few days filled with crying children, a few cryingparents, and a hassled teacher. We were enticed to quit our tears for a tub ofmodeling clay. We learned our numbers and letters and how to share, some betterthan others. Every day there was a snack and nap time, something sorely missed inlater years.

By sixth grade we had learned how to add, subtract, multiplyand divide. We have been sharing: germs, hairbrushes, lip gloss, boyfriends, bestfriends, birthdays and good times (some better than others). We learned aboutdrugs and graduated from D.A.R.E., though not all of us would stay drug-free.

By ninth grade, we thought we were ready for anything. We were in highschool, which requires walking with a certain swagger. Our first year, we didn'tworry about buying this or paying for that. Our biggest problem was the math testand what to wear to the dance Friday.

By senior year, we had grown tiredof being old enough, but not old enough. Though most of us were 18, we were stillconsidered children, not ready to play with the "big kids" because wewere still in high school. We were ready to test what we had beentaught.

Now that some time has passed, I try to remember what graduationfelt like. The faces are blurry. The noises are muted. The nervousness is gone,and I can't remember any of it. For some the dreaded walk is over, for others, itis celebrated.

If I had been allowed, I would have danced, I would haveskipped. Instead, I strutted over to the enemy, the principal, giving ahalf-hearted wave to the crowd as I accepted a big white envelope with my name onthe front: my future. How I wish it had been a plan of some kind, not just adiploma, but an answer, something telling me what to do next. If only it couldreassure us that the decisions we have to make about where to go next and what todo with our lives will be the right ones.

As it turns out, we have tofigure these things out ourselves. When they handed me my diploma, they weretelling me - the teachers I drove crazy and my parents who never gave up on me -that I have the ability to make my own choices. That they believe in me and areproud of me. The principal wasn't an enemy but a supporter, a trusted advisor. Myteachers, who were standing by watching as I took hold of it with both hands andhugged it to my chest, were there as partners. I may have pushed and resistedthem, but they pushed back twice as hard. They had been in the same classrooms,seen the same people day in

and day out. As I look back, I see that

it was my discharge papers they were handing me.

I will go outand start somewhere new, in a place where no one knows me. It won't see the tearsthat my classmates and I shared, trying to take some of the pain off each other'shearts. It won't see the times we came together or the times we fellapart.

While there may not have been instructions in the big whiteenvelope, there was something better. Contained in the leather cover, with thename of our school, they put something very special. On a thin sheet of paper,they put hope, and called it a diploma. It shows that we have enough courage,enough sense, and enough people who believe in us to make it through a difficulttime. As college looms, it shows that we are strong enough to make it throughthis next phase, whatever path we choose.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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