Kannan Swan Story: From Strangers to Memories

Harini Kannan, Staff Writer

I absolutely hated the idea of having a pet.  Freshman me would have probably screamed if a cat approached me, due to prior experiences with cats. One of my friends adopted a cat, and for a few weeks, I refused to go to her house, despite the rest of my family visiting weekly for dinners.

Two months later, I made the decision to get used to the cat’s presence, so I joined my parents for their Saturday dinner. As I entered my friend’s house, I was prepared to fight for my life: the animal that I thought was vicious, dangerous, and, ultimately, terrifying, turned out to be…sleeping on the couch.

It looked innocent, but that was how my past experiences turned into a nightmare. I ignored the animal’s presence. This went on for a few weeks — when we arrived for our weekly dinners, I ignored the cat every single time.

Over winter break, I decided to be brave and attempt to get along with it. I put my hand out for the cat to sniff; the cat had approved of my presence by not attacking me, and the cat turned around waiting for me to pet her.  I pet her, and this time she responded by rubbing herself against my legs, which I think is a sign of approval.  After that point, I slowly started becoming more familiar with the cat and its habits, from its favorite places around my friend’s house to the cat’s favorite toys. Now, I take more pictures of the cat than my storage could handle at any chance I get. I grew to like the cat more than I had initially intended.

I think that is how I would explain my high school years too.

In my freshman year, I walked into this building knowing nobody in any of my classes and barely knowing where my classes were.  The unfamiliarity was terrifying; normally, I felt at peace knowing everything about the people in my life. And here I was, not knowing anything at the beginning of the year. It didn’t stay that way, though. Slowly, I managed to get out of my comfort zone and try to make this building a place I wouldn’t dread.  I managed to make some good friends my freshman year and that already felt like an achievement considering how introverted I was at the time. In sophomore year, I wanted to try an elective I knew nothing about, so I enrolled in an intro to journalism. The class did not exist and I was moved to the newspaper staff. 

The biggest game-changer of my high school experience was that small risk taken in an attempt to get over my fear of unfamiliarity. That small risk was one of the reasons I grew to know more about the school and enjoy my time here. While my sophomore and freshman years sounded laid back, junior year was online and extremely difficult, since I had signed up for classes with no previous skill set. I studied late into the night and woke up early to study again. While I did not do that well on my exams that year, I would say those hours of studying weren’t entirely a waste of time. I entered my senior year of high school with a better idea of my strengths and weaknesses.

So I’m here to tell this to incoming freshmen, and anyone else: please take those risks by trying activities you don’t know. If you want to join a club you know nothing about, join the club and try it out.  If you want to take a certain class, take the class. I promise you that taking those risks is so worth it. I think it’s the new things you have opportunities for that make high school fun. Ok, maybe not High School Musical level of fun, but you get the idea.  I know how easy it is to stay within your comfort zone and live peacefully, but I strongly believe you may have missed an opportunity to add some thrill to your high school experience. 

Trying to get along with an animal seems much easier than getting involved with the school, but for someone who’s had some pretty bad experiences with animals, that one inviting chance was a real game-changer. The same goes for my achievements in high school, regardless of how big or small they were.