Dear Junior Year, 

I wish we had spent some time together over the summer. We could’ve talked over a milkshake at the Shake Shack, you could have let me listen to your history and plans. I wish I had gotten to know what I was going to encounter this year. Let me talk to you now, even though it’s 12 AM. We can sit in my room and eat Cheerios as I do my homework. I’ll listen to your requirements before we end the second semester; let’s walk through this together. 

I realize that going through this year would be a lot of commitment, walking through the halls of high school with the sudden expectation of needing to know what I would do with my life is pretty heavy. ACT, SAT, finals, AP testing, all of it seems to pull me down as I go from class to class, dragging myself to practice with a heavy mind. Sometimes it just seems chaotic. Junior Year, you have given me a lot to think about, you’ve given my friends a lot to think about too. 

But I’d like to thank you. 

Yes, shocking as it is, Junior Year, I want to thank you for the amazing teachers you have given me, I’ve been blessed to have some familiar faces. Each classroom you have given me filled with the designs and fingerprints of previous students who have sat where I sit now, holding the same dreams that dance around in my mind. You have given me a bittersweet smile. Thank you for giving me the comforting aroma of the OLu Cafe as they make their famous chocolate chip cookies. A sweet treat before I head off to my third period. Thank you for once again giving me the people I care about, girls I can laugh and talk about life with, boys who tease me and remind me that having a sense of humor can cure even the gloomiest of mornings. Walking the familiar halls of Orange Lutheran, each morning met with a kind smile and each afternoon ended with a warm goodbye. 

Junior Year, you have given me a lot to handle. It’s been no walk in the garden. Dropping classes, struggling to balance my life, feeling lost. But you have offered me little moments to help me through.  Despite the fact that this year has been the hardest year, you have reminded me that I am not defined by what I put on paper. 

As I sit in my room thinking about the remainder of my semester, Junior Year, you have taught me that it’s okay to ask for help. You have shown me (maybe in a slightly aggressive way) that I don’t need to do this alone. My teachers are here for me, the counselors are here for me, my parents are here for me. You showed me through people like my counselor and the school pastor that my anxieties can be relieved, all I need is to communicate. 

You have been unimaginable. You are unlike any other year that I have encountered, and perhaps that’s what makes you so interesting and frightening all at the same time. You are the year that most students dread, but as I wake up in the morning to go to school, you don’t seem so terrifying anymore. Perhaps what scares me most about you is how easily you can change. Junior Year, you are my year of opportunity, and together I know I can get through it. My classmates and I have come this far, we can make it through.

 I’m getting sorta sleepy. My Cheerios have gotten soggy, and it’s getting kind of late. Promise me one thing before I go, it’s something simple, I swear. Tell Senior Year to chill out a little, college apps aren’t fun. 

Sincerely Yours, 

Laudan Payne 

Photo creds: falling for romance