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Goeun Park: Advice from the last of teen years

Last day of classes is next week, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. A few phrases come to mind: “Wow, that went by quickly,” and “How did that happen?” and “About time!”

About time. It feels like I’ve been here for a really, really, really long time. Earlier today, one of the middle school students I tutor mentioned something about lakes, and it took me a while to realize why I got so excited about her comment. I haven’t seen a lake since December. I haven’t been home since December.

The distance has something to do with it, I’m sure. What do I mean by ‘it?’ I suppose it’s reflection. Preemptive nostalgia, if you will.

It’s that time of the year where things are winding down and thoughts are overanalyzed. My first year of college is almost to a wrap and my last year as a teenager will come to an end in a few months.

Nineteen going on 20 has been unsettling. Unpleasant, even. After all, 20 is where teenagehood goes to die. Recently, I’ve noticed that people are fond of telling me that I have all the time in the world, and I’m not inclined to believe them. If high school taught me anything, it’s that four years is not a long time.

The past year has felt disjointed, full of long days and short weeks. Despite the funky time mumbo jumbo, I’ve kept track of a few life lessons that will probably help no one but me. Nonetheless, I’ll share them with you here.

  1. It’s unwise to rely on my future self to get anything done. I tell my friend that I’ll be on top of everything by next semester but they know me too well at this point to fall for it. “Sure you will,” they say. “You say that all the time, Goeun.”
  2. Caring about something enough to offend people is important. Being radically political and politically radical in a way that is unapologetic, informed and compassionate is important.
  3. Separating whites and colors isn’t all that necessary when you buy all your clothes from the thrift store and garage sales. Washing said clothes, however, is always necessary.
  4. College is as difficult as you make it. And ideally, college should be a little bit difficult because it’s supposed to be a little challenging and maybe even a little life-changing.
  5. They call it ‘growing pains’ for a reason.
  6. For the love of everything good and holy, do not be afraid to ask for help. There is no such thing as being too smart for office hours. There is no such thing as being too smart, period.
  7. Being cynical is the opposite of cool. When given the option to look dorky or apathetic, always go with dorky.
  8. Take time to appreciate as much as possible. Time is finicky, but gratitude is not.

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.