I’M JUST SAYIN’: Columnist discusses four years of progress


Bradley Everett Columnist

One of the most common icebreakers is “If you could say five words to your past self, what would they be?” Others tend to respond by reciting a certain piece of support or advice, or perhaps even advocating to tell their past self to invest in stocks. For me, however, I still ponder this question to this day, mainly because I’m stuck between whether I’d say “Why are you like this?!” or “Dude, what were you thinking?!” That’s why it’s difficult, or at least morbidly entertaining, for me to reflect on my past self, particularly my freshman self that existed almost four years ago.

The first thing I’ve learned over the course of four years in high school is that my senior year isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Back in the day when I would observe my brothers doing their senior schoolwork, young me interpreted their work as if they were solving ancient alien runes. Now that I’m in the same place that they are, I can safely say that I’m satisfied that senior English and mathematics aren’t nearly as impossible as young me thought they would be. That being said, there are still moments where I take a look at my work and wonder: “how in the world am I able to understand this?” Perhaps high school is just a very gradual learning process.

Beyond being satisfied, I am outright grateful that I’m not as awkward as I was four years ago. People always claim that you can’t determine character from looks, but just by taking a glimpse at me from four years ago, you’d be able to accurately judge how odd of an individual I was. Unkempt hair that almost reached down to my eyes, baggy wind pants, a neon T-shirt, and a firm opposition to working out really isn’t the pinnacle of fashion, something I failed to understand until I aged further into my teens. Perhaps I’ll find this visual awkwardness cute or funny in the future, but for now I slowly recoil into a husk of a human being every time I see a photo of myself.

Thankfully, a proper sense of style isn’t the only positive individual change I’ve experienced over the years. Thanks to the assistance of my peers and teachers, I gradually transitioned into a more outgoing and gregarious person. Four years ago I could barely keep eye contact with another human being. In my senior year, however, I competed in an activity that requires creating your own ten-minute public speech, eye contact included. I’d like to give a personal, heartfelt thanks to speech and debate for transforming me into an extrovert. All of those years of scrambling to write speeches in half an hour and trying to appeal to random strangers judging my performance certainly paid off!

How well I’ve enjoyed my extracurricular activities and electives was also a pleasant surprise. In my final year of junior high, I wasn’t eager to participate in high school activities after a rough relationship with band and art. That’s why I only opted to take journalism in my freshman year, believing that writing would be a simple activity that I could disengage myself from. Four years later and I’ve found myself with a plethora of articles I poured my heart into, as well as a deep appreciation for AP Style and a burning resentment for any sort of publication that dares to break it. Both journalism and speech ultimately ended up being not only entertaining activities, but places I could be comfortable in and enjoy the camaraderie of other like-minded students. The quiet, orderly journalism room and the bustling speech room are my homes, and it’s unfortunate that I’ll have to leave them when I graduate.

One particular aspect four years after entering high school that I admire about myself is my desire to take up opportunities. Freshman me couldn’t even imagine doing most of the activities or interests that I have now, mostly because they require too much investment or would seem too frightening. Now, however, I’ve learned that taking up opportunities completely bettered myself as a person. This, of course, refers to my ongoing participation in areas such as speech and debate, but it also includes the other great experiences I’ve had in high school. Although I’m far from a skilled and profound artist, I still enjoyed my time in painting class. At the same time, I’ve also enjoyed other one-time electives I’ve done such as culinary class, but I’m eternally grateful I never ended up burning down the kitchen. Lesson learned–never trust me, or any other high school guy, with professional cooking equipment. There’s a reason why one of my favorite high school memories is the “Boiled Breadstick Incident.”

Within the realm of school, I’m pleased that I’ve gained a much larger social circle since freshman year. As mentioned before, I wasn’t that outgoing four years ago, and many of the people I considered friends at the time were becoming more distant, especially because one of my friends I appreciated most had to move away. Once again, however, the efforts of speech and other areas of my life have granted me more friends than I could ever have imagined. Although I won’t be seeing a lot of them for a while after I graduate, I’ll always keep in contact with them, and I’ll always be ready to continue our silly shenanigans well into the future. While I do wish I had become a more extroverted person quicker, I do cherish the memories that I’ve gathered over time.

Friends aren’t the only thing I’ve accumulated over the years, because I’ve also gained various mentors. The various teachers I’ve met over the years have always had something important to teach me outside of their subject, all culminating in lessons that I’ll never forget. My coaches in electives and extracurriculars not only inspired me to perform better in competitive activities, but to mold myself into a better person at the same time. I’ve also become closer to my family, especially with my brothers. There’s also a fair amount of mentors I’ve had through my peers who are closer in age, though I can’t exactly say that their influences have always been completely safe and agreeable. That doesn’t mean I’ve completely disregarded their advice; it just means I have to be a bit more careful in what I take in from their actions! The massive amount of guidance I’ve received and still continue to receive from the mentors in my life distinguish me from myself four years ago, where I wandered through life with little guidance.

I believe I’ve been a bit too harsh on my younger self. While he may have been a bit of an odd fellow and prone to a variety of nonsense, the dissonance between he and I proves how much a person can change over just a short amount of time. High school is only one small part of my life, and I won’t be clinging on to it forever, but I’m overjoyed to truthfully say that it’s completely transformed me into a greater person. The only thing more exciting than seeing how much I’ve changed is knowing that I’ll continue to change as I progress into the future and move into new experiences.  Let’s just hope that the me four years into the future who’s getting ready to graduate from college won’t be embarrassed looking back upon the person I am now because, after all, history tends to repeat itself!