For there to be a beginning, there must be an end – and in our lives we do a lot of leaving. We leave school, we leave home, we leave work, we leave hospitals, we leave churches and births and funerals and bookstores. But, we also enter all of these places. Having to leave Zurich and ZIS in the next few months to enter university after six years here, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll leave behind – who will remember me and what they will remember. I’ve also been wondering if who I am here is who I was when I left my hometown Charlottesville, Virginia six years ago, and if that person will be the same one who departs university in four years.
Lately I’ve been wishing that I had one superpower: the ability to stop time. Last Friday as my friends and I pulled laptops and liquids out of bags, acting as airport security agents for senior prank day, and as we ran barefoot on the field, the grass staining our feet, and the sun leaving patches of red on our noses and foreheads as we slammed into each other with plastic bubbles, I wished that I could prevent time from progressing. I knew that we would never be together in the same way again because that day was our last day of high school. Sure we could see each other on vacations from university, but we would never be in the same mindset as we were in that moment, or in the last four years. In my experience we bond with other people when we experience the same things, and our individual reactions to these experiences allow people to form impressions of us. This is how we choose our friends. Leaving ZIS, from what I’ve tried to accomplish and gathered from what others have said about me, I will be the ambitious girl who liked to write. I don’t think this is who I was when I left my old school six years ago. And, it might not be the same person who meets with the same friends in the next few years. Hopefully, my friends and I can grow together, or at least do some growing in the right direction, whatever direction that may be.
When I left my old school in Virginia, I would have defined myself as the athletic type. I played soccer year round, competitively figure skated and in my free time played lacrosse, tennis or basketball with my friends, although I was especially known as a runner. People would always ask me what my secret was to running so fast because my mile time was the fastest in the grade. I didn’t have an answer, I just loved to run. When I was even smaller, I used to run circles; laps upon laps around the church parking lot in my nice Sunday dress, as my grandparents chatted with their friends after the service. And then when I was nine, my biggest accomplishment was coming in second place for my age group in a city-wide 5k race. It’s funny to me that almost no one at ZIS knows this about me. Although I loved to run, skate and play sports and still do, I don’t do a lot of that now. Now, I sit and write and read and think and study.
Maybe it doesn’t matter how long the impression that we leave behind lasts or if that impression is inaccurate; maybe all that matters is how we made and continue to make people feel, even if they don’t remember it today. If we know that we always tried to put our best foot forward, we should not feel guilty about the past. And we should embrace growth because time moves forward, and if we don’t move forward we are dwelling in the past which is an illusion. This then makes me think that as I leave ZIS to begin again, I will try not to be afraid. I will thank this life for giving me the opportunity to add another layer to my identity, which although may change who I outwardly appear to be, can always be stripped away. Today I am both the athlete and the hardworking IB student, and I can call both Charlottesville and Zurich home. I dwell in both worlds. I know that I am a product of my experiences and my experiences – the people I’ve met and the things I have accomplished and seen – will never be erased from the progression of time. Hopefully I have made a mark on my friends, teachers and parents, and this will affect the impressions they leave on others. This, which is so much, is what I can hope for.
Annabel Louise Jones (’18)
Image from: https://www.quotemaster.org/q574e49138615fafb57bd9d92bb784dca