Senior column: Natasha Chang

One of my favorite journalists, Joan Didion, once famously said that it was easier to see the beginning of things, but harder to see when it ends. And while I don’t exactly remember my first day of high school, I’m positive that the only thing 13 year-old Natasha knew was that a new segment of her life was starting, one that she was absolutely not prepared for. And in the last few months, I’ve been told countless times that this said part of my life is about to end, but to what extent? Is it the friendships? This so-called “age of innocence”? Recently, I caught up with a classmate of mine I haven’t had a class with since freshman year, only to reminisce on the fact that English was the class in which we found out we would be excused from school for two weeks. Those two weeks, as we all know, turned into a year of unprecedented social isolation throughout one of the prime years of our interpersonal development. To this day, I still find it hard to comprehend that I’ve completed four years of high school. Though it sometimes feels like I was cheated out of time, the unforgettable memories that I’ve made with the friendships I forged post-pandemic balance the unpleasantries out.

I’ve learned a lot during my time in high school, more than just the academics. You often hear stories of high school “if onlys.” If only I didn’t spend so much time worrying about academics. If only I made more friends. If only. While I hold disappointment for some of the decisions I’ve made and didn’t, the one sentiment I don’t feel is regret. High school may have been more enjoyable without the integration and literary analysis, but the little moments of pure chaos, especially within the journalism room on Deadline Nights, will remain the high school highlights which I will fondly look back on decades from now.

One of the things I will always cherish about high school is the friendships I’ve made. Oftentimes, I feel I don’t demonstrate just how much I appreciate these select individuals who have seen me at my best, but more often than not, at my worst. They’ve been there to celebrate my successes and to pick me up when I’ve fallen. They’ve taught me the importance of kindness, loyalty and acceptance.

Of course, high school hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when I’ve felt overwhelmed by the workload and frustrated by feelings of inadequacy. But these challenges have taught me resilience and perseverance. They’ve helped me to grow and to become a better person.

As I look back on my high school experience, I realize that it’s been a time of transformation. I’ve grown and changed in ways I never thought possible. I’ve discovered my passions and if I may be so bold to say, my purpose. Though my life has only really just started, there are memories from the last four years that I pray stay with me for a lifetime.

So, as I say goodbye to high school and prepare to embark on the next chapter of my life, I do so with a sense of gratitude and excitement, gratitude for the experiences I’ve gained and excitement for the adventures that lie ahead. High school may be over, but my journey has only just begun.