Senior Column — Ashley Zhao ’22


Ashley Zhao, Campus Focus Editor

Wake up. Go to school. Finish homework. Fall asleep. Repeat.

When I look back on the past 12 years of my life, it’s frightening to think that I’ve followed this exact routine day after day, week after week, year after year. I’m scared that my high school journey was nothing but an endless pursuit after A’s and a shiny GPA to present to colleges, a waste of time I can never get back. I’m disappointed knowing that a lot of my self-worth has come from academic validation and how many extracurriculars I can pile onto an already hectic schedule.

But in between those late night cram-sessions and never-ending school weeks, a quick scroll through my camera roll reminds me of every tiny pockets of joy that helped me get through it all. All those drowsy mornings spent in the Quill classroom wracking my brain for letters in Wordle or browsing online for hideous dorm decor with my friend. Every single snack-run to Joker’s Koffee after early-morning swim practices for onigiri and iced tea. All those late nights spent drawing and binging cheesy shows until my eyes start to droop. It’s because of the struggles I’ve faced that I am so grateful for ordinary moments like these.

Of course, these past four years have been riddled with countless regrets and moments of hesitation I can never go back to fix. But if there’s anything I’d want to tell my underclassman self, it’d be that it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes! Be upset, be frustrated, but keep striving to learn from your failures––that’s just part of being human. It’s perfectly fine to not be the best, but keep on trying. Really trying, not just trying to try. And when you stop to look around, you’ll see just how far you’ve already come. 

To my future self, treasure what brings you happiness, and keep that spark close to your heart and protect it. When you start to lose sight of your purpose, let those emotions guide you to what truly matters to you. Be decisive. Be the one to take the first step and pursue the things you’ve always wanted to do. Be proud of how much farther you’ve gone.

Before I walk up on that stage for my final farewell, I’d like to thank everyone who has given me their support for all these years. To my friends: thank you for being the best support system I could ever ask for. Even when I’m struggling to put a smile on my face, you guys never fail to make me crack a laugh. To my family: thank you for lending me your endless support and love for every step of my journey.

When I don that red cap and gown, I know I’ll be satisfied with what these past four years have been. Regrets and all, I can celebrate knowing that everything I’ve experienced has led me right where I am supposed to be.