The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

2024 Senior Column: Ellie Ji

Ellie Ji

A year ago, if you popped the ‘What has been your biggest challenge in high school’ question, I would’ve typed up a college essay with words such as balance or perfectionism. And for most of high school, those words defined most of my struggles. So, amidst college application season, I typed up a descriptive storm about my stressed, overachieving self. I incorporated as much flare as I could to show that I’m not challenged anymore, and I’ve, well, grown

Ultimately, I gave my response to colleges — convincing them to see this strong version of me — and they accepted me. 

Then everyone said it was over. I heard the saying, ‘You’ve done it!’ with such enthusiasm that I began to take pride and think these challenges were worth my supposedly successful future. But then, I faced a new enemy: loneliness

Looking back, loneliness would’ve never made its way into the vocabulary of one of my college essays. But as I’ve come closer to the official end of my high school journey, I’ve been forced to confront my future. I initially had a list of high school goals, and it was relatively simple: do well in school, then get into a good school. But now what? As we graduate, life appears to be more nuanced than a checklist. Now, there’s an endless array of options for my indecisive self to helplessly swim in, and the variables for an equation of success seem indefinable. 

Story continues below advertisement

In response to such fear, I tossed away my other responsibilities. I locked myself in my room to question my future. For a while, everything that used to hold meaning suddenly didn’t matter. In the second semester of my senior year, high school was far from easy and the “high school experience” lost glamor.

For some time, I lost myself and carelessly let go of all the support the world lent me. 

But high school should’ve never been about escaping the future, especially not when that apparently requires being buried in worry. The “high school experience” embodies so much — it includes perhaps loving a person or any noun, playing crosswords in class, prom, graduation and maybe even missing a curfew some nights. And so my current 17-year-old self stays alive in writing projects, night drives in Los Altos Hills and the compliments of Saturday weather with a cozy downtown brunch. 

If I could write an essay about my biggest challenge of senior year now, I’d conclude it by saying that life doesn’t end when college essays don’t read perfectly. Because I know it’s all scary, but it’s even more so when centering high school around big decisions to come.

With graduation, I can proudly say I’ve grown a little and can decisively write my last piece of column advice: Never stop loving yourself, loving people and doing what you love. Those are pieces of the equation on how to live, laugh, love high school. And despite its ugly obstacles, you will be okay. You aren’t the only person feeling afraid from living life for the first time. So catch yourself, breathe and trust me because I believe in you


An uncountable number of people and I.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ellie Ji
Ellie Ji, Arts & Culture Editor

Comments (0)

All The Talon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *