Counting down the days
There are 82 days left until I leave for college, 12 days until graduation and exactly a week until my last day of school.
Ive always been a little fanatical about countdowns. My mom worries that I spend too much time looking forward to things, that I build them up in my head until the day Im waiting for cant possibly match my expectations.
I dont think I do, though. I just like having things to look forward to, and knowing exactly where I stand on a timeline of days and weeks that sometimes feel as if they are moving too quickly and sometimes, as if theyre not moving at all. Im anxious even without my watch on, because I like to know how many hours I have left in my day.
Part of my preoccupation with countdowns and clocks means I dont spend much time looking back. Any reflection I do is just for the purpose of improving things in the future; I dont see any point in reflecting on one-time events, like presentations Ill never do again or papers I wont get a chance to rewrite.
I dont spend much time dwelling on the past just for the sake of it. I guess I waste that time thinking about what Ill be doing next year or next weekend instead.
Sometimes, though, always looking forward means I dont spend enough time in the present or feeling grateful for the past. I think a lot about how the future will be better than the present, and not very much about how nice my life is right now, or how nice it has been. So I made a little list of some of the things Ive learned (or havent learned) in high school.
n I dont know how to file my taxes. But Im pretty sure nobody does. I mean, my family has an accountant. And Im pretty sure at least one of my peers will go into that field, and I can ask him or her about it.
Instead, I can create a visual metaphor for Americas tax system from the points of view of both major political parties. I used a cute picture of Disneys Robin Hood and wrote 300 words on the rationale behind this image last trimester for my economics class final. This is a useful skill in its own right, I think.
n I dont know any geography. To be fair, Ive always been pretty bad at Earth sciences and geopolitics, and middle-school geography bees were always a shameful practice. I distinctly remember shrugging sadly before taking my seat when my seventh-grade teacher asked me about the Danube. I still dont know anything about the Danube, including how to pronounce it. But I can make a concept map linking any seemingly arbitrary topics together. My skills rival any theory about six degrees of separation. Thats probably more important, because I can easily link abstract concepts. I dont think non-humans can do that, or even humans who didnt go to Riverdale.
n I dont really have a strong basis in the hard sciences. I know lots of people who have pursued further physics classes at nearby colleges. Ive personally taken lots of outside math. But I cant really tell you what stoichiometry is. Still, I am able to write incredibly long and thoughtful papers about everything from chemical compounds to sex workers, and I have.
n A lot of people leave high school complaining that theyre underprepared for college and for real life. I have to say I agree. But if Ive learned anything, its how to jump right into something and try it anyway, maybe try not to drown, and learn by doing.
Eighty-two days left. I might not be prepared, but Im certainly ready.
Riverdale High School senior Patricia Torvalds is a regular columnist for The Review. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT