A few months ago, Rev. Valerie had asked Ginger if she would give a reflection on Grad Sunday (today). Ginger agreed. Weeks passed without inspiration. One particularly bad day, she almost called Valerie to say she couldn't do this after all. But she decided to give it a bit more time and see if the words would come. A few days ago, she managed to put a few thoughts on paper, but said it was only about 30 seconds worth and she thought it was stupid. I read it and (honestly) assured her it was not. She planned to finish it Friday since she had no school, but was not feeling very optimistic that she'd be able to find anything interesting to say. I suggested that perhaps she might include a poem, song lyric, favourite passage from a book, etc. if she needed to, in order to find the inspiration that was eluding her. I also reminded her to have faith in herself and to believe that her words are of interest to others.
When I got home Friday evening and read her draft, I was so impressed by what she wrote. Afterward, several people commented on how moved they were by her words. One woman said that she was especially touched because her son also suffers from depression. I know that my own eyes welled up with tears while listening to my beautiful daughter speak of her pain. At the same time, my heart swelled with love and pride at her courage in speaking about her depression so openly. She is an amazing, strong, generous young woman who has so much to offer. Dave and I are incredibly proud of her.
Without further ado, here is the text of her reflection:
For about the thousandth time, I’m wishing I hadn’t agreed to do this. Because what can I say about graduating that everyone hasn’t heard before? Not much, as it turns out. I do know that, for me, surviving high school is one of the biggest accomplishments of my live, for a few reasons. The first is that high school isn’t the best time of your life, no matter what anyone tells you. Sure, parts of it are great, but a lot of it? Just plain sucks. Maybe your classmates are jerks; maybe you can’t get along with your some of your teachers; maybe your friends are full of relationship drama, now that they’re old enough to not be grossed out by kissing scenes in movies; whatever. Some of it isn’t any fun at all. On the other side of that, however, some parts are fantastic. You’re old enough to drive; your friends (when they’re getting along) are there to hang out with; you can get a job, which isn’t often so great, but the extra money is.
The second reason surviving high school is a big accomplishment for me is that there were times when I almost didn’t. Because I suffer from, often severe, depression, it was really hard for me. I would know most of the answers, but I wouldn’t have the energy to actually do the work. I have a lot of trouble being around people some days, and that’s difficult to deal with when you’re in an enclosed environment with eight hundred people for six hours a day, five days a week. I also had some extremely low periods during my high school career that made the ‘surviving’ part of ‘surviving high school’ literal. A lot of teenagers suffer from depression, not all of them are diagnosed, and a sad number of them don’t make it out. But maybe that makes it all the more important that the ones who can, do.
And finally, I am just glad to be done with it all. I can’t wait for university, and a fresh start. I’m looking forward to my classes, to meeting new people, to living in the city. I am nervous and a little anxious, because it’s new, and unlike anything I’ve done before. I haven’t been away from home for longer than a month, and while it’s only Halifax, it’s still not my house. I’ve never had to share a room longer than a week, or with anyone other than my sister, but I’ll have a roommate for the whole year. I’ve never really had to worry about food, because my mom reminds me to eat, but now I’ll have to remember that on my own. I’m foreseeing a lot of meals at weird times, in my future, as I’m not always so good at that.
No matter how excited I am, there are things that I will miss.. I will miss the way my friends argue about silly things; the ridiculous bits of gossip overheard in the hallways and in classes; the way everyone pretends they’re too cool to do anything, but then someone shows up with water balloons and it’s like elementary school all over again. I’ll miss the way I can pass a test with a pretty good mark with very little studying. I’ll miss only have to write one or two pages for an essay or paper. I’ll miss seeing my friends every day.
I won’t miss the school. There are a lot of people I won’t miss, but I will miss the background noise that large masses of teenagers produce. I won’t miss the smell of Milford, but I will miss the pizzeria, and the garlic fingers. I absolutely won’t miss having to walk through the smoker’s pit to get anywhere off of the school property, but I will miss the ice cream that becomes available shortly after you make it past them. I won’t miss high school, but I am glad I stuck it out.