Looking back, looking forward
By Fallon Bain
Having graduated from Waco High School hardly a week ago, I have yet to entirely wrap my head around what I just completed. Whoever told me that senior year would be simple assumed that I would not gleefully overcommit myself and would, instead, slow down to enjoy the ride. That was far from the case. If you can look beyond the heaps of college applications, financial aid forms, scholarship essays, and existential crises, yes, this past year was a breeze. It was a breeze in the sense that a never-ending tornado is a breeze – it was an incessant whirlwind of events, deadlines, and activities. Even so, I would not change the past four years for anything. I learned more in my high school career than I ever anticipated, and for that, I am very grateful.
More than any other lesson, high school impressed upon me the importance of finding a healthy balance between my different obligations and commitments. It was only after several years of overcommitting myself that I realized I could not participate in everything I wanted to. On the other hand, some activities, like theatre, were well worth the investment of time and energy. Anyone who has been involved in theatre knows that it entails countless hours of rehearsals and workdays often lasting several months. At the outset of every new production, my instinct was to become as heavily involved as possible. It quickly became apparent that this was unreasonable, and that I would have to restrain myself to a practical amount. It was important to remember that although I had committed myself to the shows, I needed to carefully manage my time to keep up with my school work, responsibilities at home, and wellbeing. Sometimes I failed to maintain a workable balance, but theatre was always well worth the struggle. The joys, fellowship, and pride from every show are some of my favorite memories from high school. I now feel prepared to manage my time adequately in college because my high school teachers had much more understanding and leniency than I expect from my professors, and I learned my limits in a lower-stakes environment.
One of the most difficult lessons I learned in high school, and am still struggling with, is not comparing myself to others. There will always be someone better (and worse, for that matter) than me in any realm I can imagine; there will always be someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more approachable, more talented. It’s hard to not compare my successes and my life with those of others around me when all I see on social media are highlights and carefully curated experiences. It’s natural to want to be the very best, but unrealistic to make it a primary goal. Any competition served as a healthy reminder of that; only one person could be in first place, and more often than not, it wasn’t me. It helped me take inventory of the many positives in my life, and not base my personal worth on the values of others.
In the halls and classrooms of Waco High, I interacted with others with whom I shared very few qualities or interests. Coming from a school filled with diversity opened my eyes to other cultures and family dynamics; I learned empathy for other’s situations and struggles with which I had no personal experience. Developing an understanding of other cultures reminded me that the real world is not homogenous, and I need to be able to communicate effectively with my roommates, classmates, and peers in college and beyond.
From a very young age, Baylor had a large presence in my life. I grew up visiting many homecoming parades, attending Lady Bears’ basketball games as often as possible, and possessing almost as much Baylor gear as the university bookstore itself. When I began applying to colleges, I made sure that I applied to as many as possible, as I wanted to thoroughly explore all my options before making a final decision. I deliberated for months, officially choosing Baylor the week before the enrollment deposit was due. This indecisiveness has carried over into my selection of an academic major; while I know that I want to study science, I have not been able to narrow my interests down to a specific discipline. My dream is to work in some capacity as a researcher, but I will defer my decision until I have had time to formally study within my fields of interest. Very frequently when I tell others I am still undecided, I hear the same words of reassurance: “You have more time to decide.” While this may technically be the case, it seldom feels like it. For this reason, I often wish that I had thought about what I had wanted from my education prior to my graduation.
It is important to be mindful of the lessons you will not learn in school. Therefore, it is important to make an effort outside of the classroom to better yourself and learn on your own. Classrooms will prepare you academically, but there are many life skills you need that are not a part of the curriculum. Ask questions! Try to figure things out; don’t be content with being unaware. My final piece of advice to current students is simple – remember that soon, it will be over. Whenever I had a major deadline or stressor in my life, I had to remind myself that in a week or month I would no longer be worried about it. It may seem crushing at the moment, but time does not stop and this situation will not last forever. Make the most of your current circumstances, and be prepared to move on to the next challenge.
Fallon Louise Bain is the daughter of Judge Virgil and Glenda Bain. She recently graduated as salutatorian of Waco High School and will be attending Baylor University in the fall. While at Waco High she participated in the National Honor Society, The German American Partnership Program (GAPP) and Academic Achievers. She is a Senior Company Dancer at Laurie’s Stepping Out Studio, a Symphony Belle and a SkillsUSA member.