Looking forward

Ben Sagritalo, Opinion Editor

Bittersweet in usually the word used to describe the vast myriad of emotions experienced by a soon-to-graduate senior; excitement for what lies ahead, yet sorrow for the memories we will soon leave behind. I feel those emotions too. But more than anything else, these final days have been plagued with the constant weight of defeat.

It’s not like I was a terrible student. In fact, as someone who received Summa Cum Laude recognition and will be graduating with a NHS cord around my neck, my academic achievement surpasses the majority of EGR students.

Despite this, I struggled throughout high school. More often than not, I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I was continually stumbling through regular tasks, from losing my homework to forgetting about upcoming tests. I had a seeming inability to focus. And despite feeling like I was working as hard as I could, I couldn’t seem to get things done.

For anyone, this would be frustrating. But it was even more agonizing because it hadn’t always been this way. As a young child, skipping two grades of math, receiving straight As, and winning my school’s chess tournament meant that success was not only typical but expected.

Now, that report card of straight As is a collage of As, Bs, and by junior year, a C. Nearly every teacher I’ve had has told me that I wasn’t “living up to my potential.”

But I also realized that I’m not a complete failure either. As a leading member of a nationally recognized We the People team and as someone who received a 32 on the ACT with minimal preparation, I knew my past of academic excellence was still somewhere within me. I was living in a sort of paradox, confident that I was a smart person, yet under-performing on most fronts.

So when I discovered that I had ADHD, this seemingly impossible puzzle all began to make sense. But the emotions that I experienced following this revelation were just as confusing.

On the one hand, I was relieved. I finally had an explanation for nearly everything. Why could I succeed in AP Calculus as a junior, yet almost flunked out of Personal Finance as a senior. Why the gap between my standardized test performance and GPA was so significant. Why I felt like I could never do anything right. But, on the other hand, I experienced a sharp pain that I only remember experiencing after my grandma’s death just months ago: grief.

Grieving for the last four years, of underperforming. Of continually being told I was a “slacker” or not living up to my potential. Of knowing the struggle could have been avoided.

But as painful as this may be, I can’t change the past. So while I’m not ending high school the way I always dreamed of, it’s still important to look forward to everything that lives ahead. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg summaries this perfectly: “Option A is not available. So let’s kick the s*** out of option B.”