A Pep Talk for High School Seniors: A Commentary on Confidence

"Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and think, 'I'm not going to make it,' but you laugh inside -- remember all the times you've felt that way." -Charles Bukowski

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

You've made it.

I know you think you're "getting there" or "on your way" or even "stuck," but this is your message. Your cue card from the universe. Me giving you a damn good pep talk.

I've been learning a lot lately, which is one of the best feelings. To willingly learn, to be touched by something that makes you feel the most pure form of growth, that's almost as magical as Hermoine Granger's hair. I've learned how to write a research paper and conduct a confidence interval on statistically significant pieces of data, that the zits WILL go away, people ARE listening to me, and that all of the things that I'm doing or not doing are absolutely incomparable to what everyone else is.

I'm a senior this year, and while the cap and gown orders, yearbook spreads, and scholarship applications are due, I try every single day not to allow my freedom, personality, and youth get swept under the rug. It's kind of hard when the rug is a magic carpet; the whole world, in essence, surrounding me, while I fly haplessly into the beautiful abyss of options.

Adults have been telling me -- and my peers -- what to do for the past 17 to 18 years. Which four art classes were available, that we needed a fruit or veggie on our tray if we wanted to get the extra serving of fries at lunch, and what class was at the end of the hall.

But now we stand alone. A hallway of doors, all open, but with secret passwords. We have to meet a standard of so and so, fill out the following personal information, and my favorite, still find a way to step out of our comfort zones.

I don't disagree with most of the guidance counselor slogans. But the pressure that sneakily snags onto those slogans is what gets me. I've been called mature for my age and bright for years, and while this is incredibly flattering and typically very confidence-enhancing, there is a small fraction of the wisdom that reminds me to be afraid of losing.

What happens when I catch up? When I'm tired of going above and beyond? When I want to stay in my comfort zone?

With all my statistics knowledge (very limited, I'm trying not to drown in AP Stats), I decided to conduct a very oblivious experiment and refrain from challenging myself in every aspect of my life. No more taking on extra shifts at work. No more internal dialogue of "GO TO NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND BE A FAMOUS JOURNALIST BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO." No more doubting the beauty of the simple things around me. No more cynicism. No more expectations.

I have discovered so much by simply taking in the comfortably constant world of high school, of my home town. It is not a lesser option to stay here for college. It is not a lesser option to focus on myself. It is not a lesser option to be comfortable. In fact, I believe it takes a lot of nerve to listen to your intuitive heart. Find a niche, dig a home, create a fortress, where learning, growing, and loving is of utmost potential.

So, back to the original thought. You've already made it. The door at the end of the hallway was not your destination, but a rest break. A spot to buy a postcard and remember with fond eyes.

I learned in AP Stats that if you widen your confidence interval, your margin of error will increase. If you open your heart more vastly, the larger space there is to make mistakes. But the more right you'll feel. So feed that confidence. Remember that no one gets less amazing-- we only flourish. Teach yourself to make room for error, because in that space, in that boundless cosmos, is where you will make it.

So, go forth, my friends. Learn.