High school taught me one lesson above all else. It wasn’t just an academic subject, and although I haven’t mastered it in four years, its importance is much more clear at the end. Despite teachers’ admirable efforts to present the best lessons of Western Civilization, I did not learn it working through calculus problems or reading Julius Caesar’s “De Bello Gallico.” I see now that Flannery O’Connor and William Shakespeare may have pointed me to it, but I only made it my own because of an unplanned situation outside of anyone’s control.
My teachers can attest that I spent many school days complaining. I would not describe myself as someone who particularly enjoyed high school. It was hard with a lot of homework. Many days, I would have preferred to stay home. I did not like all of my classes or even all of my classmates. I complained my way through high school.
As the end of senior year drew closer, we were forced to transition to online classes because of a global pandemic. Work assigned on Mondays was due a week later, and each class might have met online once a week. I was no longer required, or even permitted, to have human interaction. Most of the things I complained about in high school were suddenly gone.
This did not leave me with what I wanted. I still complained. In fact, I complained more than ever. Now, I wanted to go back to school. I wanted regular homework that was due the next day. I missed discussing “A Canticle for Leibowitz” with my peers and teachers in a windowless classroom.
Often, we wish away what we have. We say, “If only this were different” or “I would be happy if I didn’t have to do that.” Many times, when things change or we do get that one thing we think we want, we are still left unhappy.
The truth is that God gives us what we need, so it doesn’t make sense to wish away anything. After the conscience and human intellect are used to make the best of a situation, we should accept the outcome no matter how painful it is. Wishing away the life He gives us is walking away from our path to heaven.
I hope this lesson stays with me as I come upon future challenges.