Expectations, NEXTpectations

Leily Zhu, Editor-in-Chief and Front Page Editor

Looking at myself today, I am not the person I wanted to be four years ago. Back then, the person I am today did not exist, in any shape or form.

As a freshman, I walked in with expectations for my high school life. I knew not to expect “High School Musical,” but I did expect certain things: attending all the Friday night football games, getting a Homecoming date, and easy A’s. None of those things happened.

As a sophomore, I adjusted my expectations because I had matured. I knew how high school worked and I knew what to expect. Once I got my license, I would be able to go anywhere, hang out with my friends anytime I wanted. I would join yearbook as a photographer because I didn’t like writing, and I was for sure not going to join newspaper because it definitely didn’t fit me. Again, I was very wrong on all accounts.

Starting my junior year, I had heard all the horror stories about the IB/DP program and its rigor. “It can’t be THAT bad. They’re just exaggerating.” I thought I was ready.

I was hit by a train. And smashed into a brick wall.

However, like any living being, I adapted to survive my current environment, and I pushed through. It helped that I wasn’t alone. It’s quite an amazing phenomena, how strongly bonded a group of students become when they struggle through the same things together. Never in a million years would freshman me have expected to have the best friends I have today. Now, I couldn’t imagine it any differently.

Entering my senior year, I thought I had high school all figured out. We’re not seniors for nothing. Senior year was supposed to be a breeze, at least compared to junior year. Maybe I would get nominated for a senior superlative. I could finally watch all my hard work pay off, including the unceasing summer ACT practice, when I got accepted into an Ivy League. Surprise, I did not have it figured out.

IB continued to pile on required projects, essays, and work. Mix that in with college application deadlines, and dead week became dead quarter.

Now here I am, less than two weeks of high school left, and I can tell you that none of those senior expectations came true. I can also tell you that none of that matters. Given everything that I am, have been, and have yet to become, I am on the best path that I can be on.

It is okay to break your expectations. If I hadn’t, I would never have been here, the Editor-in-Chief of The Hoofbeat, writing my final column. If I had strictly followed my expectations, I would not be aware of the issues of our world or able to find my voice the way I have through journalism.

I didn’t live a typical high schooler’s life. I couldn’t freely hang out any weekend I wanted. I often had to skip out on social occasions to study instead. But it was so worth it.

I didn’t meet many of my high school life expectations, but I am more than okay with that. It is impossible to come into any situation without any expectations so instead, be prepared for two things. Firstly, walk in with your set expectations of yourself or your life. Secondly, expect those expectations to change and not always be met, and be okay with that. I know I am.