What do showers, stoplights and internet outages have in common?
They all happen to be situations where I’ve experienced great epiphanies.
I was driving home from my friend Jillian’s house.
My friends and I had just spent the past several hours pretending to watch reality television, resorting to our usual ritual of discussing our disheveled romantic lives and plans for the upcoming week. After the third or fourth mention of various high school couples that have ‘finally’ called it quits, I’d had my fill.
Early 2000’s teenaged-angst tracks filled my speakers (what else?!) as I pulled my Jeep up to the stoplight of an entirely vacant intersection. Something instantly caught my eye.
It was nearly impossible to miss the gigantic mass that was our newly-built high school which loomed ominiously to my left. As it is customary to react when thoughts of high school are unearthed from their proper burial, I shuddered. The building was lit up, an eerie beacon in the dark night. I glanced up at an unfinished stairwell, thinking of how many feet will eventually trudge up and down its steps, creating indentations from years of wear. Those feet will belong to future highschoolers; some bright-eyed and blissfully unaware of the hardship they’ll encounter in the future, some, secretly depressed and desperately trying to live up to others’ expectations... Some, destined for pristine, Ivy-league schools and white picket fences, and others, confined to a life of minimum-waged worry.
Call me cynical, but high school wasn’t exactly the best time for me.
I gripped my steering wheel harder. I was instantly flooded with horrific memories from high school. Obviously I’m being incredibly dramatic, but nonetheless, I made a number of mistakes within the peeling paint of its walls. I was weak. I was a pushover. My persona back then practically screamed: ‘Please! Walk all over me! I’ll tell you ‘I’m fine’ even though I’m secretly dying inside! Don’t worry about me!’
The day I crossed the stage at graduation in my mustard-colored gown, I think I might have taken a deep breath for the first time in four years.
Glancing back at the yellow squares of light protruding from the monstrous, brick walls, my mind began to race. If I had a chance to go back and shake some sense into highschool-Katy— tell her what to do, say, wear, and act— would I take it? Instantly, my life was beginning to feel like a clichéd movie plot.
Junior year I was utterly convinced that love-at-first-sight existed. A boy who sat opposite me in AP Stats with disheveled hair and perpetually scraped knees held my affections for the entirety of two semesters. Did I ever work up the courage to talk to him? Of course not. But did I spend an extra twenty minutes every morning making my hair appear effortlessly messy when it was realistically pin-straight? Absolutely.
Last week, I found myself in my local bar, face-to-face with this same boy, three years later. His hair was still the same floppy mess that it was in high school, but he’d traded his scraped knees for a pair of beer-stained khakis.
“Sup,” he’d addressed me with a nod of his head.
Two semesters of utter infatuation and extra hair-primping, yet all I was offered was a haphazard “Sup”? Bullshit. I’d forced my lips into a hollow smile.
Thank God I now know that I deserve better than that, I’d thought to myself.
The sad truth: a simple ‘Sup’ from this same boy back in high school would’ve sent me on a power trip to the moon.
The way I see it, though: that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
All of the f*ck-ups, tears, and fawning over unaware, preoccupied boys give way to the good stuff in life. And I mean, the gooood stuff. The laughing-'til-your-stomach-aches type of 'good stuff.'
The type of moments and people that aren’t simply presented to you without any sort of previous effort. High school isn't forever, but its effects are lasting.
Life is kinda like Mario Kart.
You simply can’t unlock any of those snazzy Bubble Bikes without a little bit of elbow grease in the time trials. Life can be messy. Sure, you’ll wipe out on a few banana peels and red shells in your lifetime, but who's to say that you won’t cross that checkered finish line on top eventually? You know the winning characters’ little victory-dances at the end of each race while the cheesy song plays in the background? That could be you one day. Keep your head up. Chain Chomps bite everyone in the ass at some point or another.
Remember those times when you’d think you were in first place, only to realize you’ve been looking at the wrong player’s screen the entire time and you’re actually aimlessly crashing into walls? Sometimes we get way too invested in other peoples’ business to tend to our own sinking ships. With a little focus and attention paid to your own aspirations, you’ll blossom.
If I had the chance to go back in time and whisper in highschool-Katy’s ear, it would only be to say: “The best is yet to come.”
Intro photo courtesy of Maxim.