Senior Reflection: Caleb Vargas

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Courtesy of Caleb Vargas

Senior Caleb Vargas reflects on his high school experience.

Truth be told, I’ve been having trouble starting this. I mean, how can I encapsulate the last four years of my life in one article? The joy, the pain, the love, and the heartbreaks that have, for better or worse, made me who I am today. Even now as I stare at my computer screen, it’s hard for me to piece together the words I want to say. I’m speechless, which is ironic because, as anyone can tell you, usually I have trouble stopping myself from talking.

I guess the real problem I’m having is that I’m awful at goodbyes. I mean, this is supposed to be my final remarks to a school and community that has given so much to me. I have no idea how I can do that in a meaningful way. To be honest though, I don’t think it even really matters how my time here ends. I think we always build up goodbyes in our heads so much that they can never live up to our expectations.

We all think that somehow, everything we do is going to have some kind of meaningful impact on everyone around us, that people will hang onto our every word and will remember you for the rest of their lives. The truth is, this is rarely the case, I mean you’re lucky if even occasionally you’re able to make a difference in someone’s life, that in 10 or 20 years they’ll remember that conversation you once had, or the way you looked at them during that moment you shared together.

After that the only thing that matters is the people you let into your life, the characters you meet. Those little mannerisms you’ve adopted from the people you cared about. How you always bend the corner of your book pages to remember where you were because that’s always how your ninth grade English teacher did it. How you wrap your shoelaces around your ankles because you saw your friend do it once in gym class. How you got into the bad habit of chewing on your pencils because you noticed your tenth grade crush did the same and you thought it was the cutest thing ever.

I reflected on all this and as I walked through the hallways one last time I felt all the memories and shared experiences hit me like a tidal wave. I tried holding onto the moments but they slipped through my hands like grains of sand.

I thought about the time I got in trouble for tweeting from the official Orange Nation twitter account, then about the time I made my own fake school twitter account. I thought about my freshman lacrosse season, when I never even stepped onto the field, then about the first time I started on varsity. I thought about ninth grade, when Mr. Smith yelled at me for never putting any effort into my writing, then about the times I’ve had people tell me something I’d written had resonated with them.

I thought about who I was four years ago, an awkward skinny little kid hopelessly clinging onto any attention thrown his way. Desperate to make the room laugh. I’m sure that kid is still somewhere inside me, deep down. But now I’m more than that.

Now I’m also the accumulation of the people closest to me. The people I never thought I would call my friends, the people I never thought I would call strangers. I’m a little piece of all of them, and in return I’ve left a little piece of myself with them.

To my teachers (the cool ones and the not cool ones), thank you. Thank you for never giving up on me despite how often I gave up on myself. I promise you, I’ll make sure it was not in vain. I can’t wait to come back and show you how much I’ve grown.

To my peers, thank you for putting up with me, I know I can be a bit of an ass. I promise all I ever wanted was to make you smile.

Finally, to that awkward skinny little kid, the one praying she’ll like him back, the one considering quitting the sport of lacrosse for good, the one who has no idea who he is; I dunno how man but we did it. Tired, weary, but unbeaten here we are. It’s gonna be rough, like really rough. That small close-knit group of people you’ve found, hold on to them, you won’t regret it. Learn to let go of people when you have to, it’s hard but it’s best, for the both of you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, open up to the world, show them all you can do. And finally, just learn when to shut up sometimes :), you’ve talked enough, let the rest of the world get a word in.

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