Time has dragged you in front of an aged door attached to an elaborate five storey house. It’s unfamiliar and daunting, yet you’ve been waiting for this moment. There’s this unnamable sense that your entrance into the corridor is going to be life changing. It’s been life changing for everyone faced with the same polished wood and that puzzling sensation. A breath of anticipation followed by a step forward, and you have become part of a historical cycle. 

We come from different cultures, religions and ethnicities but in the end we gaze upon the same door, ready to finally enter. However, if we all enter the complex building in a relatively similar way – how do our journeys through each storey until our exit become so vastly different? Every journey is different because every student is different. 

When you’re faced with rudimental alternatives such as completing assigned homework or not, the room you choose leads to other decisions and destinations. Someone can select the alternative you didn’t and end up in an entirely separate room. What I’m trying to say is – your choices determine your journey. Each door you open leads to another section of selections. It’s up to you how many doors you decide to open and which ones you do. No one’s choices are the exact same and there are a multitude of reasons behind it.

The discoveries behind each doorway vary. Some are exactly what you’re looking for, others unexpected yet welcome, and some are even obstacles. No matter what, there is something behind each choice and door. There’s a lingering question though. How will you ever know what’s behind a door if you don’t decide to open it?

The answer is a simple one: you don’t. The doors that remain shut become unanswered questions, which often evolve into regret. Your regret piles up with each door you walk past without a good reason. It might become harder to bear and tougher to travel with. 

It’s not easy, as much as we wish it would be. I still have trouble trying to overcome my first instinct, the instinct to go with the easier option, to stay hidden in the crowd and enveloped in the familiar. Entering high school, I desperately clung to what was comfortable for me using the solid excuse “once I settle in, I’ll try it”. I knew it was a lie but I repeated it so much I even persuaded myself.

What I didn’t understand was that opening those doors was part of settling in. Inhaling and clutching a door knob with anxiety is normal. Everyone else always seemed to fearlessly step inside, but I was only seeing what they wanted people to see. Here’s the truth I wish I knew. There’s always going to be a bit of anxiety involved in stepping through new doors and that’s okay. Even the most put together people feel nervous sometimes. There’s a key difference though: they didn’t let that anxiety become an obstacle in their path. 

I’ve learnt to muster a sliver of courage and battle the doubt holding me back. It doesn’t disappear but its control is minimised. I’ve been able to walk through many doors after I figured that out and have never regretted any one of them. In a way, I have become one of those people who others wonder about. Ironic yet natural in terms of the ebb and flow of the high school cycle. We enter a strange terrain and leave a furnished home. Learn to seize the moment and open the door you’re wanting to. Regrets won’t exist if you use the opportunities you’re given. 

There are still moments of hesitation where my fingers linger on handles, where there is still a pinch of regret as I remember a door which I never had the courage to open. These feelings will be forever present, but are softened by the cushion of memories – memories of friends, actions and thoughts. They are the fixtures and fittings that furnish our individual hallways. They are what truly builds the tenderness and sentiment that moulds a home. Often, the rooms we open lead us to more of these quality decorations and extra features. The light filtering through the windows is warmer, creating a golden filter for the rooms. It’s that golden light and soft warmth that make those memories even more precious and cherished.

Eventually, we will have to face the final door like those before us have. Face it, open it, and step through it for the last time. We’ll bid the house farewell, for once you take that concluding step, it fades away. We return through what we have created and kept: relationships, experiences, knowledge, regrets, and memories. 

Be unafraid. Step up and open as many doors as you can. Decorate your life with as many meaningful connections as possible. Transition from each storey satisfied with your journey from the last. After all, high school is a finite house. It only has five levels. Five years. Your journey will come to an end one day, just like mine is coming to an end this year. All I want is for you to know that you have power. High school will only be as good as you let it be and your memories will only be as good as your choices. 

What do you choose to leave with?

Written by Ermina Tajik. Edited by Nancy Qiang and Annika Lee. Published on 06/04/2020. Header image courtesy Vidar Nordli-Mathisen via Unsplash

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