Everyone expects me to be so excited, but I’m not ecstatic to leave everything and everyone I know, I’m not looking forward to the looming cloud of distance that is weeks away from covering my relationships, and I’m not OK with the way I ended high school. I had expected an “aha” moment, but what I got was regrets, forced change and the world telling me this all was normal.

After I transferred from East Valley High School to Davis, I joined programs in which I saw success, ones I would not trade the time I had with them for anything because they showed me how beautiful life can be if you have things you’re passionate about. Through these programs, I met the most genuine, kind and truly caring people I could have ever asked for as well. They helped me finally find the happiness we all crave at the end of the day.

But, as my senior year flew by, I allowed my fear of an uncertain future to get in the way of everything I had come to love, ultimately stealing the precious time I had left. I allowed myself to put distance between me and my most cherished relationships. Some of those persons became more like another passing stranger, until I saw them at graduation and acted as if we’d never hoped that our bonds would transcend the boundaries of time and the restraints of change.

I carried so much fear about my future and the future of my friends that I wasn’t able to enjoy my senior year the way I’d wanted to. When I holistically look back at my high school experience, I felt like my last year was not my own but someone else’s, and I find myself hoping soon I’ll wake up from this nightmare alternate reality. But the truth that I won’t ever escape is that I made decisions, poor ones that lost me my basis of happiness. And now I have to live with them.

Living with the impact of my decisions means living in a constant state of regret. As much as we joke about having “no regrets,” we do carry around regret. Replaying instances in our mind until we give ourselves migraines is the worst way to finish a chapter of your life. It almost makes it impossible to move on.

If you’re an incoming senior, learn from my mistakes like I did; don’t let your pride or fears get in the way of taking the extra chances you get to make right a wrong, because there will be a day where there are no chances remaining to take.

When the time came that I realized I was pushing the wrong people away due to my fears and anxieties, when I knew they were worth fighting through an unclear future for, there was no one left to apologize to. I’d worked myself too far into a hole.

I bet you’re hoping that I have a good ending for this, a happy conclusion, a reconciliation, but I don’t. For me, every day is a work in progress, and every day is a learning curve, a different way to power through my underlying anxiety.

Sometimes I think about my former friends, and remember the end scene in “Good Will Hunting” where Will tells Dr. Maguire, “I gotta go see about a girl,” and follows her to California. Sadly, I’m not a Harvard-grade genius, this isn’t a Hollywood movie and my former friends are gone all summer, traveling the country.

Instead, as painful as it is, this was a lesson. My senior year taught me to live unapologetically, fight the negative thoughts, trust more, fear less and appreciate every good moment. I hope if you take anything away from this, it’s that. I hope you also look at the people you love as if things could spiral at any given moment until they’re just faces on parts of your wall you can’t look at.

Also, if you’ve ever been able to call yourself a friend of mine, especially in the last year, thank you for giving me the little infinities most people never experience in their lifetime. Thank you for parked car conversations, taco truck runs, hysterical laughing, late night calls, jam sessions in my car and being my biggest fans. Not even I, the writer of the group, can find the words to describe our friendships.

So, goodbye, high school. I wish we could have started and ended on better terms. But thank you for the in-between.

Alexis Weber is a 2019 graduate of Davis High School and has been part of the Unleashed program for the past two years. She plans to enroll at Arizona State University to major in sports journalism and minor in sociocultural anthropology.