Dear Walnut High School…

Sometimes when I’m in a reflective mood, my thoughts tend to wander back to that first day of high school. As a freshman, I could clearly recall the trivial problems that materialized the moment I entered class (just when the 7:50 a.m. bell rang): do I sit in the front, where I can see everything, or do I move back, where I can hide from the teacher’s glare? Do I work with the people I’m familiar with or do I try to find new companions? Did I already make a bad impression for almost being late on my first day?

It’s safe to say that I felt hopelessly lost, and not simply because of those trivial matters. High school was supposed to be a steady path to self-discovery, yet I went in with no clue of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. Now, as the remainder of these past four years comes to an end, I’ve found that comfort and success aren’t as easily sought out as I had first imagined. And that’s perfectly okay.

Yet as a freshman, seeing other peers with their goals and passions set in stone and their life put together was demoralizing and somewhat tempting. Looking around, I’ve noticed that students have gradually become more and more reliant on the path others take to determine their own road to success, whether it be to “take AP/IB because it challenges you,” to “join this club because it looks good on college resumés” or to “do that program because other successful students have done it before.” While those classes, clubs and extracurriculars have probably contributed to other students’ success in high school, it’s not necessarily an “all size fits all” decision for everyone. Yes, I understand that it’s difficult to follow your own passions and interests when there’s a looming uncertainty that your choices may end up wasting your time. However, someone who finds their own intuition and sticks to it is far more unique than someone who simply follows the crowd.

With that being said, it’s important not to let others stand in our way of reaching our own goals and challenges. At the same time, it’s even more important to know your limits. In a competitive environment where everyone is striving to perform at their best, overworking yourself only adds to self-inflicted pressure and stress. Although challenging yourself is never the wrong way to go, there’s a difference between pushing your boundaries and putting an insurmountable amount of stress upon yourself.

Four years later, I still haven’t figured out exactly where my future lies. But through countless experiences, memorable interactions and self-taught life lessons, I can happily say that I’m a step closer to where I want to be.

For those of you who are afraid of taking a misstep and ruining your future, don’t be. Things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and sometimes, it’s for the best. I’ve realized that high school isn’t a paved path to wherever your wishes and aspirations are; it’s a stepping stone where you’re allowed to trip, fall and stand back up. It’s a place for you to make mistakes and learn from them. Most importantly, it is a place for us to broaden our horizons, be creative, and make memories. It’s often said that everyone has a role in life; with a genuine mindset, we will eventually find where we belong.


A senior


By Jessica Huang, Production lead
Photo by Anna Yu