Illustration by Anya Baker.

Illustration by Anya Baker.

Comets of spit hurtle through a large megaphone as I shout HI, ROOKIES!

May’s theme is HOMESTRETCH, for this last month of the school year. It’s hard to be content when you’re aching for time to pass instead of taking it day-by-day, or living in anticipatory nostalgia, or dreading the expanse of summer days with nothing to do, or agonizing over the unknown that comes with graduation. Also, grades and testing. So we are here this month to cheer you on for this final lap, and take pride in all you’ve already done!

It’ll be like a parade, a dance-off, the final number in Grease,What Time Is It” from High School Musical TWO thank you very much, and the “Sunday Candy” video. We are celebrating power in numbers, teamwork, and the sudden camaraderie that might occur among classmates at the end of the school year because you are finally glimpsing a time when none of this shit will matter. I retract that: Saying high school doesn’t matter doesn’t actually help; sometimes it might make you feel like whatever you’re going through now is stupid just because it’ll pass. When the fact is, everything in life will pass, no matter how old you are, and that actually, this time does make a big-ish physiological imprint. I don’t intend to make anyone feel boxed in by the events of their adolescence, or to say you need to have everything figured out, or that there are no second, third, zillionth chances. I mean that when you take seriously the feelings and events that set off a siren in your body and give yourself the time and space to respond to them, you not only make yourself feel better now but also make your future-life easier and therefore more fun. The things that stick with you and cause fixation will not rule your life if you are able to discern where the physical event ends, and where the larger heart-growing lesson begins. Fixating ≠ remaining in a dangerous, harmful, or destructive situation. Fixating = trying to understand it for your own sense of who you are and what matters to you. Then the rest of your life can be a COOL SMOOTHIE of ingredients that make you feel good while all the other stuff sits in the trash can SORRY, SORRY, compost bin.

So many stupid pesky little things have BOTHERED THE LIFE OUT OF ME, and then I feel like a paranoid ole coot for stewing over them [alone at my window with a pair of binoculars at 3 AM trying to intimidate every passerby]. But instead of hanging out in that feeling, I am trying to be more like: “Why does this bother me so much → it must mean that X is important to me and that it bothers me when people do Y → why might this be, or how can I be more tolerant in the future, or what boundary do I need to draw so that I encounter it less often, etc.” Fun DIY alert!!!!

OK, one more un-fun ole coot McNugget is that even though I’m always like “this real-life thing will be like Grease or this other movie scene!” I CHANGE MY MIND, LIFE IS BETTER THAN MOVIES. In the midst of all the summer anticipation and end-of-the-year celebration, you may find yourself surrounded by “shoulds”: how you should feel right now, what should happen at prom or graduation, how everyone should suddenly get along. Forced moments and milestones are constructs, and my so-called [airquotes] life is more fun when I expect nothing of any seemingly momentous occasion. It’s not easy, being such a control freak, but it’s freeing when my whole happiness doesn’t hinge on any one thing going as planned because TIME KEEPS HAPPENING, thank goodness. Also, the best things—better than forced fun—are surprises. And they will happen if you let them. In his book Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life, Adam Phillips asks the reader to consider “what the need to be special stops us from being.” He is talking about the self, but I think this goes for experiences, too. If you don’t decide that a night has to be memorable, it has the space to become something else that you, presently, can’t even conceive of. Phillips writes, “The most satisfying pleasures are the surprising ones, the ones that can’t be engineered.”

So, to quote me when I’m whispering to people outside my window with binoculars: Party on.

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Cheering you on in the margin of your exams like the paperclip from Microsoft Word,