Senior Send-Off: Embrace Your Unapologetic Self

Senior Send-Off: Embrace Your Unapologetic Self

The most important lesson I learned from high school is how to be authentically myself. When I was a freshman, I found myself embarrassed about my interests. I remember a time when the ice-breakers on the first day of school were my worst nightmare, because I was afraid to share myself with others. I was afraid to tell people about my hobbies, my interests, even my favorite music and movies. But mainly, I was embarrassed about being in the marching band. I thought people would think I was dorky and weird. I thought people wouldn’t want to be my friend because I was a “band kid.” I know I certainly thought that band kids were weird.

However, joining the marching band was possibly the best decision I’ve made in my 17 years of life. Through this community, I found myself. Not only did I find a creative outlet that I love, but I also met amazing people who have helped me grow into a better person than I was four years ago. For the first time in my life, I experienced true friendship and comradery. I felt welcomed, trusted and valued. From the late-night Norm’s pancakes after a day of competition to the long bus rides to away games, rallies and so much more, I attribute my fondest memories to my years in the band.

After a while, I didn’t care anymore that people would think I was a weird band kid, because maybe I am. Life feels so much better when you are free to be yourself, when you let yourself enjoy the things you enjoy, and when you let your quirks and flaws shine through. 

One of my most prominent memories of freshman year was before a marching band competition. I was standing in the instrument storage room, among other band members, grabbing our cases to leave for the competition. A flute player next to me turned to the other seniors, and they talked about their next steps and how they are going to miss the music program at Harbor. I remember how I felt that sudden wave of sadness, partly because I was going to miss my new friends as they graduated, but selfishly I was more sad that I only had three years left. I knew how tough it was going to be to leave this program. I knew that at my final senior competition, I too would be in tears in the instrument storage room, wishing I was a freshman again. 

I never got that final competition as a senior. However, I certainly found myself wishing I was a freshman again. I came to Harbor with scars from middle school and was welcomed with open arms by a community that has changed my life for the better. As I enter the final days of my high school career, I want to thank them. I want to thank them for being unapologetically themselves, even if that meant that others would judge them, because they inspired me to be myself too. My advice to any incoming freshman is to find something you love and let yourself enjoy it too.