I sat alone on the front steps of the school, where I spend most of my study periods. Open study consists of a room full of students thirsting for the latest gossip. The whole scene made me nauseous, so I tried desperately to avoid it as much as possible. The only other place to go was the library, which was closed when I needed it, so I ended up on the front steps of the school.
It was actually peaceful out here all alone in the early afternoon, with the fresh autumn air and the vibrant foliage. There was nobody here to ask me if I had heard the latest about so-and-so, and there was nobody to tell me to quit gazing out the window and pay attention. Inside there was the chaotic turmoil of an educational institution, but just outside the door, there was peaceful serenity.
Naturally, for me to be outside of the building was a flagrant violation of school rules. I mean, who knows what kind of trouble I could get into with the leaves and grass. After all, high school students are supposed to conduct themselves as though they are responsible young adults. They are not actually supposed to be treated as though they are. That was one thing that positively irritated me: teachers and parents were always telling me to grow up and act my age. Well, I was acting my age; I was still a kid. We are all rushed through childhood so fast that we never get a chance to appreciate our youth.
I sat for a while and considered this conflict, and I decided that I would make certain to enjoy every minute of my last year in high school. We all talked about how desperately we needed to get out of school and live on our own at college. Meanwhile all of our friends at college were writing us to say how much they missed high school and how envious they were of us. It was then that I realized how we spend our entire life longing for what is to come in the future, and then when it comes, we don't even appreciate it. It is not that I disagree with dreams of the future, it is just that I have suddenly realized the importance of enjoying the present. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.