The most beautiful verses are those which will never be written.
Edmond Haraucourt, who jotted this down in the late 19th century, was French and a poet, so he must have been smart. At least his second-most-famous line speaks not only to the artist caught in the throes of creative agony, but to anybody with dreams and aspirations of their own. We’re all trying to be better versions of ourselves, so we go to school, get work experience, learn languages, dabble in the arts, get fit, and surround ourselves with people who, in one way or another, inspire us. But no matter how hard we try, chances are we’ll never run out of things to strive for. Things that make us go, “oh, I want to do that so I’ll have to work for it”. In the pursuit of the unreachable – the ultimate versions of ourselves – we evolve, usually without even noticing until something forces us to reflect on it.
Graduation, which today marked 15IB’s dissolution as an official group, and its individual members’ passage into whatever awaits us after these years, is one prime example of such a “something”, since it really got me thinking about how instrumental the opportunity to learn and study here at Etis has been for my potential to really evolve. Not simply as a student, but as a human being. High school, although short in duration compared to other steps on the education ladder, can also be one of the most transformative: Situated on a gray area between childhood and adulthood, it serves as a safe environment with just the right blend of freedom and support for the student to try their wings and occasionally succeed, without a crippling fear of failure. I have no choice but to be grateful for having been given three years’ worth of time to just figure it all out, under the non-pressuring guidance of committed teachers and with the most patient classmates – nay, friends – imaginable. When I came here, not even I believed I would grow to feel appreciated, worth no less than everyone else in the room, so at home with people I’d never met before. I entered the new, alien world of high school with an idea of who I had been, or at least who people had thought I was. It wasn’t an entirely nice idea. I left knowing who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do if I just believe in me hard enough.
There are roughly 14.3 septillion drops of water in the Pacific Ocean, and without going too deep into the methodology of my finding this out, it is a lot. And yet, to prove that popular clichés do sometimes hold water, there are more futures open for each of us than there are drops in the ocean. As we set sail to boldly go where no one has gone before, whether by exploring strange new worlds or just finding new ways to look at the old ones, over time we will inevitably become different from who we are today, and then will be a perfect time to remember fondly what high school was all about: the friends we made, the lunchtime symposiums, the fun but inconsequential projects that sometimes took off and sometimes didn’t. I hope I’ll remember the little moments, because it is moments like that, the ones you come back to every once awhile without even thinking about it, that will always matter more than any column of numbers on the fancily decorated A4 sheet you keep in a desk drawer.
We had a long summer to try and forget what it was like to live in the security of an Etis routine, where daily tasks from climbing the same stairs to eating the same food gradually became ingrained in muscle memory, but being here one more time before heading off to university was an unusually blunt reminder of how all that has been left behind. Permanently. Even though we spent today basking in the adoration of friends, teachers and family, hard-earned diplomas in hand, I know that many of us, myself included, were surprised to find the bliss undercut by an urge to blink away what could have been tears.
To say that today has been an exclusively happy day, to deny the ambiguity of the feelings that in bulldozer-like fashion hit a young person when they realise a chapter in their lives is about to close for good, would be to devalue what we’ve been through. It does sting, just as it should. So let us part with some more words strung together – beautifully, if I may add – by the smart French dude: To say goodbye is to die a little.