STUDENT VOICES: Belmont grad moves forward with some unease

Kendra McCarthy gives us one last column before graduation

I’ve never had much of a problem being friends with anyone younger than me, at least not until this year.

I graduate this month from Belmont secondary. I’m moving away in August and I won’t have time to talk to any of the people I currently keep close to my side. With the school year ending, this chapter of my life is also. My close ninth and 10th grade friends have begun to wail their lamentations for my leaving. The moves we all used to pull on our parents, such as the puppy dog eyes, are now being used on me.

In these past few years, I’ve created clubs and have met enough people to make my 256 friends on Facebook all legitimate; to the point that leaving now is affecting me more every day. At the beginning of the year, I was ecstatic to finally be in my last year of high school; as the days passed I felt less jovial and more disinclined to leave. At Belmont, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed three years of Leadership, being a part of the Gay Straight Alliance, helping out with the breakfast program and sitting around with some amazing people in the Anime club. Until now, I’ve merely followed the ‘just get to graduation’ path, completely grasping the fact of what’s inevitable.

I don’t particularly understand why I’m so afraid of leaving; I’ve moved what feels like hundreds of times, abandoning previous schools and homes. Switching between 12 other schools before Belmont conditioned me into not caring about leaving. At least I thought so. I suppose it could be because I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, which has given me a chance to establish real relationships. I’ve known many of the people that I don’t want to leave for nearly as long as I’ve been on this side of the Island.

No matter what, I have to leave, despite how scary leaving is to me. I often find myself asking if any of the other grade 12 students feel the same. I’ve asked my graduated family members and they’ve all said something similar: I was ready to go; my time in school was up; I didn’t feel the need to stay. Why don’t I feel the same? How come I have to feel so ripped up over leaving a building and a few people?

These feelings don’t come without facts. I had never really been taught how to deal with the reality beyond the gates of a sheltered childhood. I know how to write an essay, which can be helpful in getting that well-paying job, but I don’t know how to do taxes – I never took accounting.

Basic survival instincts like cooking barely scrape by with me. Mr. Noodles, I can do; a sufficient dinner which tastes okay and covers all necessary food groups, is a whole other story. I can’t even handle budget-shopping and head to a coffee shop pretty much daily, spending money that could be going somewhere far more important. Soon, I’ll be without the constant guidance of my parents, and that will be the hardest thing of all: nobody on which to dump responsibility for all my problems.

A few of my classmates have told me they’re scared of the real world, scared of leaving their safe haven, scared of the unknown, and that they don’t know enough to be properly prepared. I’ve realized that I feel the same way and more so. I’m not ready to leave because I’m afraid of not knowing how the adult world works. I’m not ready to leave, because my feelings are somewhat based on the feelings of the younger teens who are important people in my life. I’m not ready, because I’m comfortable here.

Recent Belmont secondary grad Kendra McCarthy was a student this past term in Lauren Frodsham’s Writing 11 class.

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