"Hey those are some ugly shoes!"
I remember my freshman language arts teacher reading that opening line from one of our peer's essays. Most of the class was quite taken aback by that statement and utterly curious to hear out the rest of the paper.
I do not remember the direct context or message of the essay, but my guess is that the quick attention-getters fed into an artistic way of reminding society about judgment and compassion.
As youngsters, when someone called us names on the playground or little Bobby or Susie didn't play fair, there were consequences and ground rules laid down to follow. The teachers and parents made these foundations fairly black and white, and the situation usually ended with a time out or a back swing on your back end.
Over the years, most of us -- minus a few slow learners in the male population -- quickly picked up what is and is not appropriate, and that we should treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.
As we grew older, some of us slipped up, but we have continually found our way back into the swing of things.
Upon hitting the senior year, the maturity level has taken a definite jump. The growth in the final year of high school could be a record leap. And some say that the change in the early 20s proves this jump minuscule -- there is hope for our young men.
Within the last nine months each of us has made individual future plans based on our own reasons, goals and lives. Things that used to matter may not be the same, and we are all growing up and out of our shells. With this in mind, yet another challenge faces us -- and I'm not talking about the fact that in about 15 days we will all pack our bags and head out into the world without our high school clan.
It is especially imperative to our friendships that each of us respects and honors one another's final decisions and the people we are striving to be.
Many people understand that change and transformation are inevitable, but for some these differences become a source of conflict. One rationale for this may be that we move toward the future, independence and adulthood at different rates. Another explanation is simply that each of our desires and aspirations are becoming more clear.
What is good for you may not be the best for the person next to you. Education is key to the future and to a successful life. For some that means college, but for others, life-long learning can be just as influential. And sometimes it needs to take place in a country halfway across the world.
Cherishing loved ones, friends and family has come naturally this year, and will continue to even more, I presume, in the next month. But what some of us may forget is to support each other and not judge the needs of those closest to you.
Life will throw us some curves and bumps, but what will matter along the way are those tight-knit relationships. Keep an open mind and remember to be there for others in support and acceptance.
Shamra Bauder is a senior at Kenai Central High School who has worked as an intern at the Peninsula Clarion.
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