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As these words reach print, I will have already pressed start on that countdown clock

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Calli Masters Let me preface this column by responding to the question I've heard dozens of times this summer: Are you excited for senior year?

Answer: Of course I am. I can't wait for my soccer senior night, the closing band concert and our end-of-year grad party. But with each of those events comes a finality that causes my answer to be conflicted by anxiety and hesitation.

This means I'm saying goodbye to high school soccer and my teammates, performing in my last band concert and parting with my childhood — all in the next 12 months.

Right now is the easy spell — the beginning. Here, I play the role of a senior, the part already scripted by tradition. I donned purple eyeshadow and space buns for my goofy school picture and helped create our soccer team's warm-up playlist because that's what seniors do.

We've already been taught how to be "seniors," so stepping into the position is comfortable.

Then comes what truly defines the final year of high school: college applications, fighting off a tough case of "senioritis" and parting from friends and family.

These tasks still seem far away, things I can convince myself that I don't have to deal with for quite some time. But I won't be able to hold that illusion for long.

No matter how many cautions and pieces of advice I receive, I will have to face each of these battles alone.

It's difficult to believe that a year from now, I won't be sitting on my bed with my brother next door playing video games and my parents downstairs.

I won't be giggling in the basement of my friend's house as we struggle to get through a board game because of how much we distract each other. I won't be trying to nutmeg my teammates at practice in hopes that they'll have to accept their punishment of a few push-ups.

I'll be across the country, alone, getting ready to start the next four years of my life at college. It's an inescapable thought that will pulse at the back of my head as I make my way through my senior year.

Thoughts like that add a sense of urgency, creating a glaring countdown clock. I see the last digits running out for my friends who graduated this past year as their departure days grow nearer.

They urge me to enjoy every moment and not let the time I do have slip by me — a daunting task etched with the warning, "You don't have much of it left." It makes me feel very old, yet very young at the same time. I hardly feel ready to live on my own, but they're right, I do only have a year.

As these words reach print, I will have already pressed start on that countdown clock, entering my first day of senior year and thus starting my last year at home.

Really, it seems the answer to the aforementioned questions is yes, I'm very excited for my senior year, but I'm not excited for it to be over.

Calli Masters is a senior at West Linn High School.

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