OPINION: High school jitters aren’t just for freshmen

Atarah Israel, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has a fear. Whether it be the queasy unease that creeps up your spine in the face of high altitudes, or the sudden lurch in your stomach at the sight of yet another jump scare in your least favorite horror movie, there is always something to be afraid of. Admittedly, in the prior two examples I was illustrating my own ideas of terror, but the suffocating grip of fear is a universal sensation no matter the reason.

Though the word fear itself may initially spark images of horrendous monsters with appearances unspeakable, that dreaded feeling is not limited to imaginary nightmares: the ghoulish faces of gremlins can easily be exchanged with the dark, murky uncertainty that is this school year, and the effect would remain the same. Legendary Gothic writer of all things horror H.P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” With nearly three and a half weeks into the school year, combatting with the powers of the unknown has become status quo.

The seniors of this year have been presented with a monstrous amalgamation of unknowns: knee-deep in Common App inquiries and dual credit confusion, the crushing weight of a precarious future seems to weigh down on the student conscious. Returning to school after a year of eLearning feels foreign—whether in-person or online last year, the rush of bodies during passing period, in-person school events such as assemblies and a full eight period day can leave students feeling out of practice and overwhelmed.

Knowing this, it is no wonder that the return to school at times feels more like a subverted continuation of the 2019-2020 school year, and not the beginning of a new cycle. Even now, I feel like a lost sophomore attempting to play the role of a true upperclassman. Over the course of last year, the typical model of senior activity was limited due to the challenges present and, therefore, the attitudes that comprise a senior identity have been lost. If the trails of last school year were a turbulent descent into chaos, this year is the disorienting dizziness after the fall. 

Does this mean all hope for the school year is lost? Are we forever stuck in limbo, neither sophomores or seniors? As much as this year is one full of unknowns ranging from college acceptances to beginning-of-the-year jitters, it is also one of learning from the past. 

There are actually many things we do know: we know that this is an unprecedented school year, and that no one is alone in their imposter syndrome. We know that we can ask questions when confused, even if there is such a thing as a bad question. We also know that we won’t always get the answer we want, or an answer at all. Most of all, we know that we have the power to redefine what being a senior means, and defeat the forceful grip of the unknown.