At the end of season 3 of Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore graduates from high school. In the last scene of the episode, she and Lorelai are running through the grand entry way of Chilton, when all of a sudden, at the top of the stairs, Lorelai turns Rory around and says "See? Not so scary anymore." When I watched this episode at the beginning of this school year, I almost started to cry because it hit me right where it needed to. I watched the episode again last week, and it hit me in the exact same way.
I graduated on Sunday, and by the time you read this I will officially be a high school graduate, which is something I was starting to doubt would happen by the middle of April (senioritis is real, guys. Too. Real.) In watching that episode of Gilmore Girls I was reminded of my first day at the school I graduated (!!!) from. I've told this story before, but bear with me because I'm definitely nostalgic right now:
August 18th, 2016 - I wake up and look at myself in the mirror for a longer amount of time than I probably should. I turn on a playlist of songs that I hope will make me feel more excited but then quickly realize that it's not working. I get dressed in a gray skirt and a red sweater because I read once that by wearing red you can make people like you more. I spend the drive to the school telling myself that it'll all be okay, but when my mom pulls into the parking lot I slump down in my seat and hope for that cloak of invisibility to show up. My mom forces me out of the car after a few minutes and I walk carefully towards the playground, the whole time thinking that this is the scariest thing I'll ever have to do. I go to the wrong playground and am escorted to the flagpole by some eighth graders. I stand in the back by the gate while I wait for someone to talk to me. The gate is high and a dark black, looking strong and scary, and seems to symbolize all I am afraid of in that moment.
I spend my morning following the girl who had talked to me first to all the classes we had together. She introduces me to a few people, and I start to wonder if this won't actually be as bad as I thought it would be.
Then I realize I'm late to my first English class.
I come back from that class more nervous then ever. It had gone fine, but being late didn't help my nerves any, plus I can't find that girl and I don't know where to go next. I look up to the gazebo, where I see a few groups of people sitting and eating their lunches. I walk over to a couple of nice looking students, one who I recognize as being in my class. I ask if I can sit with them and the girl says yes. I sit there and listen to them talk for a couple minutes. They don't say anything to me, and I realize I am too afraid to say anything to them, so I get up and walk to the bathroom. It's empty, and I stand in the farthest stall and start to cry.
When I get home, I look at my calendar and count the days left until I graduate. "Only two years," I tell myself. I take a shower and think that no day could possibly be worse than the one I just had, and I tell myself that at least I never have to do my first day again. I go to sleep and can't help but say again, quietly, "Only two more years."
June 03rd, 2018 - I wake up and look at myself in the mirror for a longer amount of time than I probably should. I listen to music that makes me happy and a little nostalgic, and feel the excitement start to bubble. I put on my white dress with blue flowers, because I saw it online once and thought it was really pretty and got it specifically for my graduation. I drive with my mom to the school and look around, trying to take in the drive as much as I possibly can while being ridiculously happy and distracted by all the good things that are about to happen.
We pull into the parking lot, and my mom parks in a familiar spot. She turns to me with tears in her eyes, and I feel my eyes begin to do the same. She reminds me of that moment two years ago, when I wouldn't get out of the car. When I was afraid of the unknown, afraid that I would fall, and afraid that I would never find my place. I remember that day in August when I refused to step out into the unknown, and when I step out of the car on this June day I walk towards the gate without any fear, like I've done a couple hundred times since.
As we go through the morning, I stop and talk with the people around me who I have become friends with over the past two years. A few of us reminisce about our time together. We talk about how weird it feels to be standing in the courtyard wearing caps and gowns when just nine months ago we were correcting ourselves from saying we were Juniors. We say how this feels almost fake, like we're just practicing and it still isn't real.
Before I march, I give my economics teacher a quick hug. I walk through the sea of people and everything automatically becomes a blur. A happy blur, but a blur nonetheless. After it's all over, as I walk outside to leave the parking lot for the last time as a student, I stop and look at the gate. I take a deep breath, smile to myself, and say quietly "not so scary anymore."