By Ashley Salas

Photos By Melissa Iturralde, Models: Mia Ivannah Garcia and Hanna Chamberlain

Do you remember your first day of school? I sure do. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was terrified of opening those school doors. I was afraid all eyes were going to be on me, oh the anxiety that rushed through my body. And let’s not forget the word FRESHMAN invisibly stamped from end to end of my forehead, what more can you ask for from a newbie. Transitioning from being viewed as a kid to now a teenager is a big adjustment. My whole routine was changed and honestly, I wasn’t okay with that. Sometimes, I’m not good with change. I mean who is anyway? New friends. New teachers. New material. But worst of all, a new school which meant my best friend wasn’t with me to combat crime anymore. That was my first heartbreak and oh boy did that take time to heal.

You know, it is a scary feeling to leave the people who you know best or who play “Hide and Seek” like no other child in the playground. It’s like they have become a part of you and who you are as a person. I almost wish cloning was a real thing but unfortunately technology hasn’t been that advanced yet. Changing responsibilities from a kid to a teenager to an adult is never easy. The kickball tournaments in the playground have stopped. The janitor-cleaning-closet-gossips during lunch have stopped. The tracing letters for homework has now been replaced by complicated algebra equations. Things are not meant to be taken too serious, right? Everything was all about chocolate milk spilling out of Marcos’ nose because Gabriel had two forks in his mouth pretending to be a walrus. Now, it’s about caring for your grades because they determine where you will be later in life.

Summer is almost over and along with it comes the start of a new school year. The sandy beach is replaced by notebooks. The heat of the sun is replaced by classroom desks. Your friends are now replaced by new ones. Your responsibilities are replaced by new bigger ones. One minute you’re a kid, the next you’re calling for an appointment on your own. It’s the cycle of change and you have to adjust to it.”

Let’s not forget the physical pains this change causes. One minute you’re four feet and the next you’re a professional Michael Jordan with a growing mustache. Things are growing where you didn’t know they could go and boys are looking at you differently. They don’t look like they have cooties anymore, now that I think about it. Little unwanted mountains are shown on your face and your nerdy glasses have turned into contacts. People can now see your beautiful brown eyes. But all of a sudden, one year you could be rocking a mohawk and the next be part of the cheerleading squad. Each year is a different transition the educational world has set out for me, that’s just a part of life. And each year will just be another memory in the yearbook, a yearbook you will look back in 20 years and remember how lost you were trying to find your place in a little unknown world.

It’s true what they say, those childhood friends that I used to play with right after school on our street sidewalk, who would’ve thought that after that year, it would be the last time I would ever see them again. Many moved schools and many found their personal clique. It’s weird how small the world really is. Fifteen years later the boy who lived in front of me with that sweet smile was on my mind and only to find out he graduated from high school and now owns a car lot. I know he used to love anything with mechanics. The girl with the red hair that everybody knew is now a teacher, I had a feeling she would be one since we were small. The fashion girl that dressed up every day at school and made uniforms cool is now studying fashion design at one of the best universities in Texas, even though it is my rival university considering from where I got my degree from. The boy that held my heart in middle school is now married with a child and is doing great. Thank the heavens above, I was worried about that guy. My best friend of 10 years now has a beautiful baby girl and is loving life next to the hand of her husband.

What I’m trying to say is that change is uncomfortable but along the way, you see how it didn’t change you for the worse but rather for the better. I created friendships that may have lasted a minute but have also lasted a lifetime. It’s a growing pain, trying to figure out where you fit in the world at such a young age but even though I don’t have my day one-sharing popsicle and toys- day one, I can still thank them for the small unacknowledged changes they helped me get through. My advice to you, look at every year as a way to grow personally. People come and go out of your life, and those who are meant to stay will stay. Learn from them. Grow from them, but never forget the impact they made on who you are today.

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