Senior Column — Maryam Sadeghifard ’23


Maryam Sadeghifard, Staff Writer

I got a flashback to my old Instagram story I posted on May 12, 2019. “2 more years,” it read. Being freshly 15 years old, the only thing I truly was looking forward to was… driving. I looked forward to reenacting the images in my mind of me driving down Pacific Coast Highway with wind blowing in my hair and my friends in the back singing along to “Brazil” by Declan McKenna. It was times like those that illuminated the future in my eyes—what kept me going in high school. 

As it turns out, my freshman year was cut short, and I came back to a not-so-normal junior year. By then, the anticipation to get my license neared, and I finally achieved that feat in Sep. 2021. Having my license now was cool; I was able to do all those things, but I needed a new challenge. By now I knew the only thing that I could look forward to was my senior year and the ability to achieve “seniority” and to radiate the “experienced and cool” persona that I saw always followed the past seniors. 

Writing this in May 2023, I can’t say that I captured that persona the way I envisioned myself to. Instead, I’m more lost and inexperienced than I’ve ever been before. There’s always been structure. The past 13 years of my life consisted of waking up, eating, going to school until 3 p.m., going home, doing homework, sleeping, then repeat. Becoming comfortable with the cycle my whole life, I never felt scared of what the next year looked like for me, because inevitably, I’ll see my school friends, I’ll do the work I need to do, and I’ll go to my cozy bed in my parents’ house and take a nap. But as I near the end of my senior year, I’ve come to a realization: the structure I once had will never be there again. I mean, I envisioned my junior year, I’m doing the senior activities I always looked forward to, and, yes, I do feel I have the seniority to back me up in any circumstance, yet in terms of the “experienced, cool persona” I thought I’d have, I’m more on edge and immature than I’ve ever felt. 

The difference between looking forward to getting my license and life outside of high school is that only one of them has that assured outcome. I knew getting my license was bound to happen; having the physical license in my hand was my goal. I achieved that goal. Yet now the future has no structure that I know yet. At this point in my life, I cannot tell you what I will be doing next year, a crucial difference between now and my past years. And what I realized within this is that my imagination will never fully align with my reality. That’s not a bad thing. 

Yeah, I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but that sense of freedom is something that I never had. Coming into this school year, I had a set outcome in my mind—I would go to my dream school, I would get the grades, and I would maintain the friendships I needed to. I quickly learned no matter how much I tried to control my future, my outcome is not set in stone. How I envisioned my life in junior year to look like now doesn’t match up. I didn’t go to the university I imagined myself going to, I have new friends, and I gained knowledge and experience no forged image in my mind could capture. 

I accomplished the goals I set for myself in each school year, and now it’s my time to redefine what a goal is. Rather than that goal being set on the outcome, I’m restructuring my goals to be aligned with the feelings. My goal for the next year is to embrace the newfound freedom and indulge in it. 

But lastly, I want to thank the Arcadia Unified School District for providing me with a rich education all 13 years of my life and introducing me to people who I know will stay in my life with me forever. The bonds I created with my teachers and friends are ones that I could never replicate in any later chapter of my life. Thank you to the teachers who helped me believe in myself, the teacher who never placed any limit on my creativity and pushed me to evolve in so many different ways by exposing me to different people and experiences. The teacher who saw my passion in literature and built up my confidence to read my work to other people, who saw me beyond the hundreds of students they had. 

The friend who saw me grow up to the person I am today and stayed through all the cringey phases I had and always built me up even when I felt unworthy of it. The friend who knows everything about my life, the secrets I could never tell anyone. And to the friend who I wish I met sooner. 

So, I ask myself now in hopes that I look back at this article years later, did I let go of the outcome? This time, did my reality defeat my imagination? I don’t know what is to come, but I only look to the future with positivity and hope. And to the people I met throughout these shaping years, I wish for them to have the most fulfilling years and to experience just an ounce of the amount of happiness they instilled within me throughout their life, because that in itself lasts a lifetime.