As I write this, there are 15 days of high school left. When this is published, there will be zero. Throughout high school, I feel like I have been counting down days. Counting down the days to Christmas break, summer break, but now I am counting to the actual end. While there is still prom, the senior barbecue, and other high school centric events left, my high school experience will essentially be over in 15 days. 

While I’ve dealt with change before, moving to the United States, and the change from middle school to high school, nothing has never felt this final. While the move to America was definitely large, I was too young to understand that. And with the move from middle school to high school, while I was going to be in a larger building with new people, I knew I was going to have some of my friends with me. With the end of high school, I am being pushed to move on without the support system I have had for years. 

Over the last week especially, I’ve talked to my friends about this, specifically about the fact that this does not feel real. While we might have attributed that to the cool weather, that excuse has become invaluable. In reality, the reason that it does not feel like high school is about to be over is because I have not fully allowed myself to process that it will. Doing that would make it true that I am going to leave so many things behind in just a few weeks. 

This denial partly comes from the fact that the end of school signifies leaving friends behind. While there are some that I do believe will continue to be in my life, the physical distance that college is going to cause between us is definite, and I can only hope that distance doesn’t go beyond being physical. Knowing that people that have been basically a daily constant in my life for the past four years will now not be a short drive away, has caused me to value the time I get to spend with them more than ever. 

Ailin Toro with her friends. Photo submitted by Ailin Toro.

Leaving high school also means leaving a consistent part of my life, that regardless of how I felt about it, was always there. Everyday I could count on being able to show up at the same time everyday, and going to my six classes. While I’m not going miss that specific schedule, I was used to the routine. Moving on to college, I know the routine will not be as simple as this, and having to settle into a new one is going to be hard. 

These four years, while stressful and draining, always had a specific end goal: to graduate and get accepted to college. While that goal was accomplished, I do not know what I am going towards now. I am going to college, but my major is undecided, and while I am okay with taking my core classes and figuring out what I like, having my inevitable career path be completely unknown makes moving on that much harder. 

Ailin Toro during the 2018 Pep Rally. Photo submitted by Ailin Toro.

With this though, I am still excited for the end of this chapter. While there are people I will miss, there are definitely other aspects I will be happy to leave behind. These four years I have worked hard, and deep down I do know I’m ready to move on to another place. These next three weeks, I am going to try to make the best of. With these 15 days being my last at the high school, I am not going to focus on the countdown.

I am thankful for the high school experience that I did have. While some classes were more straining than others, some classes I took added value to my life that have helped shape me into who I am. The relationships I have made with people here, are ones that I would not give up for anything, and even though I will not be seeing them everyday, I do not think those bonds will break. 

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