If I Could Go Back


Jean Namgung

“If I could go back, I would invest more time into hanging out with my friends. I thought I’d hang out with them second semester in senior year, but that didn’t happen,” said Jonathan King’ 20

We all come in different ways. 

Some came in as ninth graders, a bit worried at the thought of crowded hallways filled with unfamiliar faces. Others come in boldly, confidently, prepared to fulfill their hopes and dreams of a High School Musical experience. 

Regardless of whether it was the Vallo bus, the 4-train, or an Uber, somewhere along the way, all of our paths crossed. Perhaps we don’t remember it all—the people we’ve met, the tests we’ve taken, the conversations we’ve had. But it’s strange when you think about how different our four years here would have turned out, if all started to live in the moment. 

What would happen if you decided to just say “hi” to the boy who sits behind you in Precalculus? Maybe it would be the start of a life-long friendship, or maybe you would finally learn his name. Or what if you auditioned for the musical on a whim? Whether or not you would have played the lead or a tree, you would have come out of it a different person. 

At the end of it all, we are changed by the people whom we meet in the places we choose to be in. But what would you do if you could go back? 

Ask Jonathan King ’20, “I would tell myself to never lie to myself, to always stay focused and stay on task. I would set a goal for myself rather than just living in the present, because living in the present is good, but you also have to plan for the future — according to my dad. I agree with my dad.” 

For Baboucarr Gaye ’20, “I would be less hard on myself. I would tell myself, ‘You’re doing a great job. Be proud of yourself and you’re going to be fine.’”

Take it from Pamela Li ’20, “I would take the elevator.” Or from Joshua Greenberg ’20, “I would not take AP Bio as a sophomore, a mistake.”

And for Anthony Bonavita ’20, “I would be an extrovert in my ninth grade year, because I learned too late. I spent a lot of time taking the early bus home my first year year, and every day that I went home from school, I kept seeing fewer people. I felt like I was doing something wrong.”

As for me, If I could go back, I would be more trusting of the universe, knowing that in every moment, I am exactly where I need to be. I would want to live more, to experience all that I can and let myself explore what makes me happy, where my passions lie, who I want to surround myself with. Honestly, if I could go back, I would be selfish—spending my time to really get to know myself. Actively. Passionately. Unapologetically.

I’ll end this with a quote from Lion Kim ’20. When I asked him what he would do if he could go back, he said, “Nothing. I have no regrets.” Maybe his sentiment isn’t true for everyone, but it’s certainly one to live by. We can’t change who we were, but we can take all the lessons we’ve learned—the good and the bad—and carry them with us as we figure out who we want to be. 

In the end, we all leave in different ways. 

We can’t change who we were, but we can take all the lessons we’ve learned—the good and the bad—and carry them with us as we figure out who we want to be.