By PATHIK SHAH and KATHERINE YE, seniors
Every year we are alive we leave a paper trail. Or, in our case, a digital one. The other day, my younger sibling wanted to see one of my old middle school essays, so I went digging through the archives of my email account, clicking through pages and pages of chain emails and group project negotiations. I finally stumbled on some old, intriguing chat logs, which I scrolled through in disbelief. My early-teen antics seemed so far away from my current life. Back then, my friends and I chattered about our “problems” (“Why didn’t you guys tell me about the Aéropostale sale last weekend?”), complained about math homework (“I can’t believe Friedman assigned the odds and the evens today!”), and, most importantly, gossiped (“Did you hear that Andrew has lunch detention for the rest of the month?”).
But this amusement soon cooled into embarrassment. Compared to high school’s marathon sprint of a life, my middle school life had been a stroll in the sunshine. I couldn’t believe how blinkered I’d been — we all had been —just four years ago. Back then, we had fretted about tomorrow or next week. Now we struggle with questions of next year. How could we have known?
My thirteen-year-old self had left behind it a trail of emotions and worries, a trail that I followed avidly. I scrolled through countless old texts, emails, and even old essays, trying to piece together how I had changed and what had changed me. These documents were my past speaking to the present — their future. As I stared at my past persona, laid bare before me on the screen, I realized that I couldn’t see myself in it. I was a different person. We were all different people back then.
Listening to my middle school self gossiping was embarrassing, true, but it was also endearing. I felt like an older sibling walking my younger sibling home from middle school. In the same way, I also had to wonder: what will my future self think of me now? Future me, in four years you will be close to twenty-two; you will have graduated from college. What will you think of my high school conversations, my college essays, and even this essay?
Indeed, in four years, what will we all think of ourselves? I think we’ll smile. Like the older sibling and the younger, we’ll laugh a little at today’s triflings: what to do for graduation, what to do over the summer, what to major in, how to make new friends. It’s true that today, our worries loom large on the horizon. But tomorrow, as we continue our journeys, these mountains will shrink behind us. Larger mountains will loom, but we’ll keep trekking. We’ll keep climbing summit after summit, each one a more dizzying height.
Class of 2012, lay down your burdens, your anxieties, and your insecurities, if only for a few days. Now is our time. We’ll always face newer and greater troubles, but we’ll also come to possess grander plans, closer friends, and deeper joys. Remember your old selves and hold on to hope, because life does get better. Or perhaps we do.
Anyway, don’t think too much about it. What will be, will be. Right now, just forget about the distance we have yet to walk, and rejoice in how far we have come.
Katherine Ye & Pathik Shah