[A bit of a break from Origins. This is for a Carnival I stumbled across while perusing some blogs and found Real Math in a Minute because yes, I'm enough of a nerd that I read blogs about math. I only just stumbled over it tonight, but it looks like its also about schooling in general, and I was a student not terribly long ago. I'm intrigued. I've never done this before, so here goes..]
September 9th, 2004: My freshman year of high school. I was terrified and nervous and excited all at once in a bundle of nerves, hormones, and pristine expectations. High school was going to be my time. Not like Middle School, which was for little kids. Now I was rolling with the big boys.
My backpack was laden with textbooks, pencils, calculators (of all kinds, for these come in a variety in this age of mathematical luxury), and organized better than an OCD secretary's office after knocking back a box of Five Hour Energies. It was also the last time in recorded history that my backpack was clean and recognizable as a backpack, instead of a vessel for Azathoth, the Lovecraftian end of all things, that it would later become midway through Sophomore year.
Heading into school that day, I had some dreams about what high school would hold for me. That previous summer I got a bit of a wild streak, and in a sudden fit of anarchic rebellion (that was wholly sanctioned by my parents) I died my hair blue. Blue, I say! No longer was I a mild mannered brunette, now I was a dangerously dyed spawn of demons! I expected my immediate and sudden coolness to sweep through the halls like an ocean wave crashing upon the rocky shore. This did not happen.
I also expected to catch up with a few of my friends from the infinitely juvenile institution called middle school that we had left behind. I knew that I would be with these few friends for the next four solid years and they would be my intrepid companions for life. This did not happen.
I demanded that I take all of the classes that I wanted, and none of the boring ones; homework would be only slightly less effort than writing my name across the top. All of my teachers would know that I was the smartest kid in their class, but they wouldn't single me out in such a way that I appeared to be some kind of uncool teacher's pet. This did not happen.
Even if these other things did not pan out as I planned, I had plenty of backup plans. I was a planning fiend. There was no such thing as "according to the plan", there was "according to my plan". If nothing else, I did know that I had my college and careers all planned out. Every class I took would be relevant to those goals, and when I was given my diploma (probably a year or two early, just because they didn't want to hold me back), I would be ready to take the world by storm.
Did. Not. Happen.
Let me tell you what did.
I spent four years growing. Four years learning, and I'm at least pretty sure some of it was during class. I lost contact with most of the people I knew from middle school, and in return I met some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, most of whom I am still in contact with to this day. I took classes that would contain little to no long-term knowledge that I would retain beyond finals week. I took a few classes that changed my perspective, and my place in the world, forever. I passed most classes, I failed at least one. I made friends and plenty of enemies. I had some jobs, none of which I had planned. My career path didn't so much as branch off as it did grow into a new tree altogether.
I met new people. I learned who I was. I fell in love, more than once. I learned how much I did not know, how much I still had to learn. Also, I never dyed my hair again.
The important thing to remember is this:
Life happens. You can't predict it, you can't plan it, and you certainly can't prepare for all of it. Live. Grow. Learn.