WATERTOWN, Connecticut, U.S.A. — A few weekends ago, my boarding school had our annual “Dress to Impress” dance to kick off the school year.
It’s one of my favorite Taft traditions.
The “impress” is to be taken in a very raucous, excessive, madcap manner – sequins, glitter, bright colors, and fishnet stockings are often seen.
As I got ready in my friend Courtney’s room – crowding in front of her mirror with three other friends and coating my lips with “wild cherryz” lipstick – I realized that this was the last time I would stand thus, crowded in a dorm room in a fishnet tunic and sequined pumps, cursing the fluorescent overhead lighting and dancing crazily to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
Okay, maybe not the last time, but it would be the last time I would do so in preparation for “Dress to Impress.”
Senior year is hard to take in. All of the sudden you’re supposed to be a role model for the rest of the school. You’ve been there the longest, you’re the most experienced, the oldest, the smartest, the coolest. Supposedly.
When I was a freshman, I idolized the seniors. They were tall, sophisticated, intelligent, and well dressed. And now I wonder if freshmen see my friends and me that way. It’s simply not possible – we just aren’t senior material.
We’re goofy, we still act like we’re 13, I for one dress like a dork, and we’re certainly not tall. I don’t feel like a senior. And what’s more, I don’t know anyone in my school anymore. When you’re a freshman, knowing the seniors is practically inevitable. My first year, I knew every senior, who they went out with and who their friends were.
But as a senior, you find yourself walking down hallways and bumping into what look like 10-year-olds, asking yourself questions like: when did little kids start going to my high school, and who is that kid who just said hi to me?
The biggest surprise of senior year is the loneliness. It’s true what they say – it’s lonely at the top. All your friends from the class above you have graduated, and there’s no one to look up to, no one to emulate. It’s basically just your classmates and the class below you, who are bound to annoy you at times.
Don’t get me wrong. Senior year is great. I love my friends, I’m comfortable with most of the people in my class as we’ve gotten past a lot of the “drama” from previous years, the faculty knows who I am, and I get to skip assembly, but – like everything else – it’s just not what I thought it would be.
And although I’m trying to soak up as much of it as I can, I can’t get the fact that this is my last Halloween at Taft, last spring concert, last winter formal, last “dress to impress” dance.
I’m a senior. And by this time next year I’ll be cramming for a college paper or making new friends, and all of this will be a fond memory.
Elizabeth Walle is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.