The 411: The fears of leaving | February 22, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - February 22, 2008

The 411: The fears of leaving

by Katharine O'Hara

I am now well into the much anticipated second semester of my senior year. Having spent the last three-and-a-half school years studying, completing a multitude of homework assignments and tests, volunteering for various organizations, attending meetings, filling out college applications and writing essays, I have looked forward to this time to simply take a breath for quite a while now, as many students do. Since second semester began, I have even had the opportunity to sleep more than six hours for several consecutive nights for the first time in months, and am beginning to find I rather enjoy it.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, too - about my future, about my past. It has begun to hit me that at this time next year, I will be six months into my freshman year of college, having started the next and very new chapter of my life. I will have left behind a young, more inexperienced version of myself. And while I will come home for holidays and summer vacation, I will never live at home with my family in quite the same way I have for the last 16 years. Having become quite sentimental about all of this lately, I have been waiting for things at school to slow down so that I will have the opportunity to spend and cherish quality time with my friends and family, strengthening the relationships that have regretfully been put on the back burner as AP classes and extracurricular activities have dominated my life for the last three years.

But, as with most things in life, my vision for the latter half of this school year has not, thus far, played out as I expected. During a time when I had planned to be relaxed, carefree and enjoying the company of the family I will leave next fall, I instead often find myself feeling irritable, frustrated, still stressed and, quite frankly, cramped. I am angered and annoyed by little things, and am eventually left feeling angry that I am angry when all I want to do is have a pleasant and memorable last six months before I leave for college.

I have spent the last month blaming my family for making me feel this way, and sometimes irrationally think that maybe they are doing it on purpose so that it will be easier for me to leave come fall. But, it has not taken long to realize that maybe it is not my family that is changing, that they have not all of a sudden started acting differently to make me grumpy. It is I that am experiencing a bout of anxiety about leaving the life I have here - my home, my high school and teachers, my few strong friendships. It has occurred to me that perhaps I am doing all of this to myself, distancing myself from my parents and brothers, so that I won't feel as sad about leaving them. And even though high school has not been the most enjoyable four years of my life, I will still be sad to go, to leave behind a place that houses many of my thoughts, emotions and memories - good and bad.

The school year is dwindling away much faster than I have been aware, as I spent October through January in a daze of completing college applications. It is hard to believe that only four months remain until my high school career comes to a close and I prepare to enter the daunting territory of the unknown. I am taking mental notes of the daily rituals I hold so dear but have taken for granted until now: home-cooked meals, free laundry service, watching Jeopardy after dinner and seeing my 6-year-old brother grow up.

In my first years of high school, I only thought of this time in my life hypothetically. As a freshman, already frustrated by my high school experience, I always thought that by this time I would be checked out and ready to go, and in so many ways I am. But there is a part of me that is finding it excruciatingly hard to let go. My hope is that I will escape this funk and be able to make this semester a memorable and enjoyable one, that will not be tainted by my fears of leaving.

The 411 offers information and insight on the teen scene by Katharine O'Hara, a senior at San Ramon Valley High School who spends her free time going to concerts, enjoying her friends, and playing the piano. E-mail her at


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