The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

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May 20, 2024

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Senior Year: How Personal Expectations Can Ruin the Time

Addison Smith
Choosing between colleges, applying for different schools, figuring out where life will take you after high school and many more are some of the things me and my fellow seniors have had to think about this year.

As a 17-year-old senior in high school, I am finally at the age I’ve always wanted to be. When I was little, I thought being a senior meant that you go out every night, party with friends, do perfect in school without having to try and that everything figures itself out. Well sometimes the real world slaps you in the face with all her might. 

My year started out like any other. I had a good schedule and I was ready to live up my last few months of high school. I acted as if it were any other year, not caring, or wanting to care, about what my new life would look like soon. I was massively struggling with the notion of making important decisions and basing those decisions on what I thought other people wanted out of me.

I think that college is one of the best and worst things to have on your plate during senior year. It gets you excited for life after high school and leaving your bubble while venturing out into new unknowns and you might get the chance to tour your dream school to see if you get “the feeling.” For me however, it went nowhere near as smoothly.

October 2022 

I started touring different universities in the fall of 2022. For my first college visit, I went to Emporia State University. The night before we left, my mom received a phone call about how the school no longer offered either of the majors I was interested in. 

For my first college visit at Emporia it didn’t feel real and it felt like things were happening very quickly. (Bryce Mallory)

The two areas of study that I want to major in for college will be Journalism and English Literature. These are what make me most in my element and however also happen to be two very uncommon fields of study, especially when trying to find them at the same school.

When I arrived in Emporia, I received a name tag and a card that said Major: UNDECIDED. I was a little frustrated about this because I had known exactly what I wanted to study, but they had no longer offered either of my options. By the end of the tour, I had a conversation with one of the college counselors about what I could switch my majors to instead. She said I could switch Journalism with a basic Communications route that they offered. I knew that they would not do the same things for my future. 

Now, I am not trying to come across as hating Emporia. It just happened that it wasn’t going to work out for me. I left the university glad for the experience, but knowing that I couldn’t see myself there. It’s safe to say, I didn’t get “the feeling.”

Summer 2023

I was working roughly five days a week while spending time with friends on my days off during the summer before my senior year started. I kept myself busy so as to not think about the upcoming year very much. 

During the month of July, my brother left for school. He decided to go to the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York and had been working towards this high honor school throughout the entirety of his senior year and kept himself very busy his senior year. 

He was a football player, hockey team captain and hockey referee. He definitely lived a more enticing life than I thought I did. Me, who all I ever had to talk about was what grade I got on a test or quiz. I kept myself focused on my pile of school work to form a self-distraction from my brothers’ achievements. Don’t get me wrong, I have always supported my big brother and have been one of his biggest cheerleaders, but a part of me has always wanted the spotlight. 

I tell myself that no one wants to hear my pity party and that everyone else is dealing with the same things so I should be able to tough it out on my own.

My brother was always my rock. At first, we didn’t get along much at all. Our relationship dynamic changed drastically over that summer and final few months. We started saying hi to each other in the halls, me especially realizing that I wouldn’t get that chance much longer. 

I think it was because of how close we got that I thought I had to be just like him. I thought that if I didn’t have the athleticism or the popularity group that I would be the lame little sister who was never going to fill her big brothers’ shoes. 

After he left for school, I had the chance to visit the University of Missouri, or Mizzou, with my dad. The campus was nice, and the school was nationally recognized for having an outstanding journalism program… so why didn’t I get “the feeling?” 

During this highly anticipated college tour, I got to see what I thought was my dream school for the first time. (Bryce Mallory)

Mizzou offers a great journalism program and was far enough away that I could be independent, but close enough that I could go home over the weekend if I really wanted to. 

As soon as my dad and I got back to the parking garage my gut instinct told me that wasn’t the right school either. I wasn’t excited about the possible new adventure at Mizzou and I had no big desire to come back any time soon. The drive home was full of self-reflection. If I could turn down Mizzou, did I really know what I wanted to do?

Fall 2023

Going into the month of September during my senior year, I had already applied and been accepted into the University of Kansas, also known as KU. I had been looking around and found another school that truly stuck out to me. The University of Montana.

As a Kansas kid, the state of Montana is very far. So far in fact, that the fastest way to get there would be to probably take a plane. But what was the big deal? You had to take a plane to get to where my brother was after all. 

We visited him during what the academy called Parents Weekend during Labor Day weekend. I saw him in uniform and even got to go to some of his classes with him. Much to my relief, he was doing just fine by himself. If he could take this huge leap away from his friends and family and go to one of the most unconventional schools out there – I should be able to live up to the same standards, right? 

Initially, that was one of the largest factors that drew me to the University of Montana. It helped, of course, that they offered both of the majors I am interested in and are known for having an excellent English program. But did I really want to go that far from home so soon?

When I visited my brother, I had the honor of being in attendance for his official pinning ceremony. (Bryce Mallory)

When I got back from New York, it was almost as if a huge reality check came to light. I had to buckle down and seriously consider where I want to go, what I want to do and where that will be. That was when I started to close myself off from the people around me. 

I have never been one to go out of my way and discuss with someone how I was feeling emotionally. That has been an ongoing battle I fight with myself. I most often than not let all my anxiety, doubts, struggles and unsteadiness build and build until suddenly it has nowhere to go but out.

In this state, I tell myself that no one wants to hear my pity party and that everyone else is dealing with the same things so I should be able to tough it out on my own. And while most seniors in high school fight the questions of “where?” and “when?”, I was not handling it well. 

I can say with full confidence that September and October of my senior year was the lowest point I have been in my life. I had so many thoughts crushing my brain and making it too cramped to fit in anything else. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because I was so afraid they wouldn’t want to listen, which was my fault, and at the same time I was so frustrated in myself for shutting everyone out that I became an impossible object to move. 

I could also blame these feelings for the fact that my brother hadn’t been around anymore for me to lean on. Even though we didn’t have the closest relationship, he was all that I had. For the first time I was an only child at home and it didn’t feel normal. 

November 2023

My brother came home for about a week after his first trimester ended in early November. It was so nice to see him again after I visited him in New York, but something was different. 

Over the course of time since he has been at the school, he has definitely ‘grown up’ a lot from the young adult he was before he left. The dynamic we shared when he was home was not the same as the one we had when he left in July. This made me realize that growing up and maturing is a part of life. 

While he was home was when I decided I was ready to choose a school. Usually seniors pick in October or even in some cases September, but I still had some personal growth I had to do before I was ready. I decided that the University of Kansas would be the better fit for me. 

All at once, I got “the feeling.”

Something that no one tells you in high school about college is that sometimes you don’t get “the feeling” when you are physically on the campus of a university. I know from personal experience that sometimes the thing blocking you from having that experience is your own self-doubt. 

What was blocking the experience from me was my misguided family pressure that I imposed upon myself to be exactly like my older brother. I didn’t commit fully to a school without thinking about him and his accomplishments. I told myself that going to a state school was almost taking the easy way out compared to what he was doing. 

Everyone’s high school experience is different and everyone lives different lives, so don’t go out of your way to be worried about why the person sitting next to you got a better grade on a test or why you don’t feel good enough compared to your sibling.

Considering my experiences, I think what is really important about senior year is to find yourself. Everyone says that happens throughout high school but a big part of it comes from those final months walking the halls. 

As a senior, you have to accept the fact that the only way to get through the steep hurdle of the year is to pace yourself, because as Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

I would have missed out on my senior year if I didn’t stop and look at it as a whole. I was contemplating not going to my senior homecoming and not participating in school events that I normally do. I didn’t have much interest in going to sporting events with friends because I would rather be in my room. 

Something that really helped me get out of my slump was my friendships. They were the ones dragging me out of my house to go to games, dances, the movies and more. Many times this year I have thought about my friends and even though this idea makes me sad realizing that we may not stay together, I know that I’ll keep the few that truly mean alot to me. 

So, walking around the halls, seeing the faces of freshman, and reminiscing that I started my freshman year in my room from the pandemic, I don’t feel envious of their fresh start. In fact, if I had to do it all over again I would do it the exact same way. 

That’s high school. Happy, sad, stressful, chaotic and full of ups and downs. Everyone’s high school experience is different and everyone lives different lives, so don’t go out of your way to be worried about why the person sitting next to you got a better grade on a test or why you don’t feel good enough compared to your sibling. 

In reality, the person you compare yourself to is doing the exact same thing. Everyone wishes they were better, which means that no one ever truly is perfect and everyone has their own unique path, and just because you’re not doing it exactly like someone else, doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Teaching this lesson to myself was hard, but now that I have made it up the steep hill, I can finally breathe again knowing that I am exactly where I need to be.

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About the Contributors
Bryce Mallory
Bryce Mallory, Editor-in-Chief
This is senior Bryce Mallory’s second year on the Owl Post staff. This year, she is excited to take on the role of Editor-in-Chief, in addition to being a writer for the newspaper. Bryce is involved in the National Honors Society, Quill & Scroll and orchestra. Outside of school, Bryce loves to read books, watch romcoms, and go to dinner with her friends. She is looking forward to new print papers and loves having a community of friends to work with every day in the newspaper room. 
Addison Smith
Addison Smith, Online Editor
Addison Smith is a senior and Online Editor for the Owl Post. This is her third year on staff, previously serving as a staff member. Addison is involved in Rho Kappa, Link Crew and Quill & Scroll. Outside of school, Addison enjoys hanging out with friends, making art and watching TV shows, her favorites including, “The Rookie” and “Community.” Addison is looking forward to advancing the print paper, furthering her photography and writing stories about the community. What Addison loves most about journalism is the ability to spread information to the public and the fascinating world journalism provides through writing and photography. 

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