Reflection is a bittersweet thing, I suppose, particularly at a time when the rest of the world is making a resolution for the new year.
“I’ll go on vacation more often this year!” they say.
“I’ll spend more time with family!”
“I’ll get fit by going to hot yoga classes!”
I, for one, thoroughly detest the concept of resolutions because we set unrealistic goals and then take no steps towards their actualization. Despite this, I did make one last year. Of course, it doesn’t deserve the title of a true resolution; it was a mere joke, even within my own mind.
On that night, I thought to myself, “I will take more risks.”
A while afterwards I added, “as long as they aren’t too risky.”
It was an insincere and shallow goal. The only reason I made one was because the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme wanted “risk-takers”. To me, in that moment, taking IB was a risk; I had created my plans for the future, now it was up to me to take steps to implement them. Expectations played a part as well – almost everyone from my class was going to the same school, under the same IB programme. It was the norm.
At all the seminars I went to, IB coordinators boasted about the programme’s rigidity and inflexibility. They promised to mold me into brilliant, critically thinking student who is artistic, athletic, and also a leader in the community. I was not convinced I could become what they were planning to turn me into, but I still applied. My course options were limited, but I was still grateful because I could make a choice. Any freedom, however small, felt empowering – and I knew exactly which elective I would choose.
Ever since middle school, art has been my strongest subject; I liked it enough to want to take art in high school. I don’t have a plethora of hobbies like my friends, but I do love drawing and painting – I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to it. Naturally, I was bitterly disappointed when I found out it was impossible for me to take it with my schedule.
It was then that I was contacted by FFCA – my immediate reaction was Ha! Too late!
My high school life was already planned and perfected, but, on a whim, I decided I wanted to go to the interview. I offhandedly said that I wanted to take the most challenging courses available for grade 10s, and the reply was “Okay!” followed by a bit of writing. I didn’t think to much of this at the time because I was caught up in the blissful thought of taking art.
I later noticed that the process of applying for AP seemed too easy. It was so simple that I was terrified by the thought of an advanced English class; the humanities course I took had an emphasis on social studies, so I had never experienced a class focused on literature. I desperately increased the amount of reading I did, hoping to bridge the gap in skill level that existed between me and the other grade 10s. Unfortunately, I thought there were only people of the same grade level in my class – I realized the truth halfway through the month of July. I also didn’t know there was work to be completed over the summer. Opps.
Several days of panic ensued as I scrambled to figure out what this mysterious “theme statement” thing was. August went by, and with each page of Frankenstein that I read, my anxiety increased. This overall sense of unease was made worse by the fact that I got links to some of the exemplar work done by APs – Queeny’s essay was in the mix. I was incredibly intimidated, but after that little taste of sweetness, I wanted more. I wanted to improve my writing, to have it blossom with splendor and brilliance like those pieces did. A risky choice, but nonetheless tantalizing.
Then the first day arrived.
I didn’t know what to expect, so I was unprepared to see how much love there is in this class. It was all so welcoming, so warm, with all the books, pillows, and couches; there was so much energy and excitement in the room that I got swept up in the current and accidentally had a much better time than I had intended to.
Like trying on new clothes, I decided to try on AP English. All of it – from the amazing poetry seminars to the collective “oh!” that fills the room whenever an enlightening point is made – I love it all. I’ve been much too captivated by this class to wish to leave now.
This class, to me, represents the resolution I made one year ago – everyone is willing to fail to learn, and everyone is willing to take risks with their writing. Maybe, by being here, I’ve stepped out much further than I would have otherwise; in a tangled, roundabout, and unexpected method, I have reached the resolution I wasn’t planning on keeping in the first place. Even so, I still like to think that I am not only a better writer, but also a better person because of it.
Reflecting now reminds me of just how sweet the fruits of learning are, and just how bitter I am because of how close we are to the end. Thank you all for everything.