Wesley Coburn, Santa Rosa High School senior


You need to slow down.
I know you’re worried about doing well in high school, I know you’re worried about getting into the best college and I know your life is stranger, more overwhelming and more dramatic than it has ever been. I know. While I strongly endorse a wholehearted focus on your future and a diligent pursuit of future goals — a disposition that has been encouraged by nearly every older, authoritative figure in our lives thus far — I want to call your attention to what’s going on right now.
Many teenagers are going through a similar process as yourself. You are one of many. Many people, much like yourself, are milling about their business, each with their own collection of experiences and patterns of thought and each with their own “something,” the “something” that makes them different from everyone else.
Right now, it may seem as if you don’t have much of a “something,” you may feel similar to a lump of clay waiting to be molded into something more complex, more unique, more real. It may seem as if you are not truly a member of the human race yet, that this part of life is a sort of training ground — or a runway of sorts — in preparation for the real thing.
Well, I have to let you in on this little bit of wisdom I’ve come across none too recently: This is it. We’re here. We are actually alive, right now. So stop pretending like you’re waiting for it all to begin and start living up to your expectations.
I know, but it really hasn’t begun yet, this is high school, and even though it’s living, it doesn’t seem like much of a real “adult” life. I feel the same way. But we have to remember to pretend.
That’s the key. We have to disregard the fact this is an utterly surreal part of our lives, one that we will never have the pleasure or horror of experiencing again, and we must remember to live now the way we wish to live the rest of our lives. Mind you, to retain sanity, we also must bear in mind the temporal nature of this experience.
It has to do with respect to your fellow human beings, all the time, throughout your entire life, even now in high school. It has to do with thoroughly thinking things through, questioning your deepest beliefs and reaching out for greater knowledge every day, knowledge that will help you face the world a more prepared, confident human being.
We can’t just trudge through every day as if it has no bearing on the rest of our lives. It has to do with respecting yourself and never shutting yourself off from the limitless opportunities that surround you.
When we have reached this level of awareness, and understand that it is time to start thinking and acting to the best of our abilities and true selves, we can begin to eliminate those facets of interaction that make high school such a horrifying model for society. Since I really seem to be skirting around the true point of this topic, I’ll give you an example of some behavior I feel denotes none of the realizations or paths of logic I have set before you today.
The locker and hall situation at Santa Rosa High is driving people crazy. Most notably, the seniority. Maybe because they’re taller, maybe because they’ve had enough or maybe just because they expect more out of their classmates at this point. Regardless, I would bet that a decent portion of all the classes are becoming increasingly annoyed at the rudeness, thoughtlessness, and generally animalistic nature in which some students conduct themselves around their lockers.
I know of one case in which a senior has had repeated hostile interactions around her locker with two male students who occupy the adjacent locker. Standing in front of her locker to gather her school supplies, she has been faced with derogatory comments by boys who cannot seem to wrap their heads around the novel concept of first-come, first-serve.
Such interactions should make us gasp out loud and run to the nearest mirror to examine ourselves and make sure we are not coming off this way. If we are, in any way, we should force ourselves to slow down and question the rationale behind our actions.
It should force us to remember that this is no training ground, nor a padded room where we get to throw ourselves around and see how it feels or throw others around and watch how they react. This is it. We are truly alive.
Just because this is the preliminaries, the introduction to the action/adventure we all have planned out, and the “boring stuff” for most of us, we have to live up to our highest potential every day, regardless of the fact that our frontal lobe has not yet fully formed (that case has been made in the courts, and it has lost!).
You are not exempt from responsibility in any form of ethical standards now, nor will you ever be, so stop hiding behind that veil of youthful ignorance and start living up to your full potential. Right now.