Chen Swan Song: What if?

Amelia Chen, Editor-in-Chief

What if I fail my integrals test? What if I had just studied a little bit more? What if I just go out with my friends today? What if I make the first move?

What if…I did all of this…for nothing? 

“What ifs:” the dreaded, unanswerable questions that have haunted me for the past four years of my life. In all honesty, I hated not knowing what was next. I hated not knowing what the “right” choice to make was, and I hated the fact that I always had a lingering feeling that I could’ve done more. 

From academics and extracurriculars– to relationships and friendships, I always had to choose between two options with the notion that there was always a better choice. Sleep or bad grades? Football game or SAT practice tests? Go the safe route or take the risk? Looking back, these choices that I had to make were miniscule, but in the moment, they were life-defining. 

I’ve always been the person to wonder what the future holds, dreaming of the moment where I could finally make a “right” choice. But right now, it’s time to look back at the past. 

In freshman year, I asked myself: “what if I did newspaper instead of yearbook?” After going back and forth between the two for months, I impulsively emailed the newspaper advisor and my English 9 teacher, Mrs. Greiner, begging her to let me change electives a month before the last day of school. Thankfully, she did, leading me to another three years in room 1400. 

Room 1400: the room that I walked into on my second day of freshman year, scared out of my mind as to what high school would bring me. Little did I know, room 1400 would be more than just the place where I had English 9 Honors. It would become the place where I discovered my passion for design and photography, the place where I became co-editor-in-chief of The Blaze, the place where I rekindled my friendship with my fourth grade best friend, the place where I left multiple fruit snack wrappers, and the place where I would call my second home. Whether it be during the mornings before the bell rang or during brain break, visiting room 1400 and Mrs. MKGB has become a part of my daily routine, and I will forever miss that Allen Poe poster that has stared at me for the past four years. 

In the midst of quarantine, when school was my last priority, the opportunity to run for Student Council Association (SCA) arose. Unlike my other activities, SCA was the one thing that I knew I wanted to do in high school. But what if I don’t win? 

I doubted myself, and the fact that my other peers and my parents also doubted me made me not want to run at all. However, I told myself to just go for it, and the decision I made led me to three years of being class and executive president. Being a part of SCA has taught me skills and life lessons that I will always remember. Most importantly, SCA has taught me the importance of friendships. Planning spirit weeks, tailgates, homecoming, and students vs. staff games with my closest friends have become the highlights of my high school memories, and I’ve finally learned what it means to have a community. SCA has also created my most embarrassing moments and an unforgettable amount of tears and frustration that will live on with me. But, as Mr. Dobbs would say, “We have a LOT to do today,” and life goes on. 

The toughest part of high school was, of course, academics. As much as I hate to admit it, academics were my life. I took every AP class possible to have a better GPA, stayed up late to finish homework, and cried whenever I got a grade below an “A”. I was always taught to “work hard” and make sacrifices for school, and I lived by that. It wasn’t until junior year that I began to realize that I had been confining my high school memories into bland moments. So, my “what if I fail my tests” and “what if I just do this later” turned into “what if I go out with my friends today” and “what if I do this earlier to get it over with?” I found a balance between school and my personal life, and those Cs on my math tests don’t hurt as bad as they used to. 

The moral of the story is to live. Don’t waste the four years you have of high school wondering what you could’ve done differently or whether you should do something or not. Go for it. Take risks. Learn. Move on. As cliche it sounds, life is truly short, and in just a blink of an eye, you’ll be a senior at graduation. As you’re receiving your high school diploma and saying goodbye to friends and teachers, the last thing that you want would be wishing that you had lived your life the way you wanted to.

So, there really is no answer to my endless “what if?” questions, and there never will be. There’s no “right” or “wrong,” but that doesn’t matter to me anymore. What matters is the experiences, knowledge, and everlasting memories that I have gained, and I am finally ready to say goodbye and move onto the next chapter.