Made of Memories


Mikayla Lowery, Writer


I was lost as I passed white brick wall after white brick wall, and a sea of people, who all towered over me, paraded around me. That was Freshman year. Starting my senior year, I supposed I could navigate the school, but the school has continued to grow with me. I now do not know my way around the new three-story building. Even though I still do not know my way around the school, I have learned much.

Some people say they are no longer friends with anyone from high school, which implies that it does not matter what friends people make in high school. For me, reflecting on high school friends makes me remember the wisdom imparted unto me by Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. At the sight of her alma mater, a character named Paris Geller quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson when she said, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” Similarly, graduates may not reflect on their high school friends every day, but even so, their old friends have helped make them who they are today.

My friends have influenced my choices in high school. For example, after seeing their constant posts and hearing high-spirited cross-country anecdotes, I traded my pom poms from varsity cheer for ASICS running shoes. Just out of peer influence, I left behind a sport that I had put my blood, sweat, and tears into through gymnastics and tumbling since I was four years old, and yet, I did not regret it at all. Cross-country made me feel the sturdiest sense of harmony I had ever felt in a team. Unlike cheer, in cross-country, I was building my skills up from scratch, but I found the challenge welcoming because I had my teammates and coaches by my side. In classes, I have braved piles of homework, countless tests, and speaking in front of the whole class because my friends have admitted their shared stress. My friends have even given me a place to make my voice heard by encouraging me to join Chipper.

Without the help of my friends, I would not have had the support I needed to feel confident in these activities or like I belonged in them. I can thank them for fostering my love of academics, running, writing, and more. While people must care about the friends they make in high school, it is also necessary for people not to find their identity solely in their friends so that when they part ways, they are left feeling lost. People should feel rooted in who they are. Like a plant, people need roots to grow. I do not feel dependent on my friends. Instead, I appreciate all I have learned from them and our time together. The help of my friends was a scaffold for me while I worked on building my character. I now feel ready to venture out by myself to continue adding stories.

Another piece of advice I have is not to be narrow-minded in academics. Before my sophomore year, I shifted from one dream career to another. I went from wanting to create masterpieces as an artist to wanting to design pieces fit for the runway as a fashion designer to wanting to create personalized spaces for families as an interior designer to wanting to design logos and advertisements as a graphic designer. Finally, towards the end of Freshman year, I felt called to become a nurse. Nursing seemed outlandish and out of the blue compared to my past career aspirations, but my core classes helped bring about this change of mind. They gave me a newfound appreciation for academic subjects.

I used to feel overburdened and buried beneath schoolwork, but then I learned to find meaning in my studies and was carried out of the rubble. Suddenly, the schoolwork that crushed me now uplifted me. I realized that statistics are so significant that they can even save lives, such as by proving the effectiveness of drugs. I learned to empathize with those who lived through historical events. I imagined myself as a Lowell factory girl. I learned about Nicola Tesla having OCD and the favorite food of Ronald Reagan. I traveled to far-off lands and met people from different cultures from the comfort of my desk. I explored the plights of poets and ached for solid ground with Pi. I became passionate about learning more about healthcare. My heart filled with warmth from serving during my CNA clinicals, and in the eyes of the residents, I saw those of my beloved nana, who passed away during my Freshman year.

Through healthcare, I have learned to practice empathy, and at school, I try to show kindness to all my classmates. I have learned to stay calm, listen to other opinions, and realize that I am not always correct in classroom discussions. I also have pursued showing appreciation for my teachers, and one of the best ways to do that is to be respectful towards them, listen to them, and do the work that they assign. Interacting professionally with others is a skill that follows people to college and their careers. During sophomore year, I felt ready to set the world on fire with my opinions. Now I have learned to look through the opposing viewpoint, and sometimes doing so is like peeping through a keyhole to the truth. One of the brightest things I have done is learn that I am not always right.

I am still towered over by other people in school, but I am used to it now. As I leave these white brick walls, though comforting and well-known to me now, I leave knowing that this school has equipped me with the proper resources to succeed in college. Graduating high school is just like starting a new chapter. What will happen depends on the past chapters in my life, and I move forward with the lessons I have learned. I am ready to continue writing my story. I feel that fear has lost its grip on me and that after the trials I have endured and overcome, I am prepared to journey into the unknown again and see what awaits me.