The Edge of Our Cocoons


Avery Crouse

The end is ever illusive. Yet we are approaching it truly. To reflect on the past four years of my life and all that they have offered me, my heart is caught between grief and gratitude. It is the grieving of a past self, a past way of life and perspectives. It is the gratitude of a high school experience full of more opportunities and memories than I could have ever imagined. I cannot forge into the next chapter zestfully without first contemplating the world I, and 230 more, leave behind.

Over these past four years, my days have been marked by an exterior identity of athletics, clubs, grades, cliques, etc. I know my peers must relate. To leave this behind is not only thrilling and long-awaited, it is terrifying. Because as we step into the next phase of who we want to become, we are all confronted with the question of Who are we if we are not the embodiment of the perceptions of others? Who are we when our identities are not pre-conceived boxes of what we’re involved in or which the last name we have? Who are we when we can be whoever we wish to be?

These questions demand a radical deconstruction of false labeling and categorization of both ourselves and others. These questions beg of us to release attachment to the boxes we may have been put in, whether by ourselves or others. These questions prompt a grieving of self. Or rather, of “self.”

And not only do these questions prompt the realization of a sort of death, death of a narrative, but they force us and those around us to also grieve. I look to my family especially, the way my mother and my sister and my father are saddened to see a familiar routine and face of their kin slowly approaching an inevitable transformation of what we have always known. I look to my friends, and in our eyes, you can feel a hidden sorrow in each “last.”

From the last Homecoming to the last basketball game to the last time we will ever spend time together before things change for good. We’re all participating in this collective sadness, yet rarely do we speak to it. I look to my teammates and coaches, knowing the role we held in each other’s lives is forever irreplaceable. For me, I reflect upon the memories and friendships, how much I will miss the sports, but more importantly, the people. For the team, I can see their reluctance to say goodbye. Somehow wishing we could have just one more game, one more match, one more meet, one more practice: all together like things “used” to be.

But with all of this, I refuse to be stuck in a melancholy way of perception. For it is only because of such amazing experiences that we can even be sad at all. I feel fortunate to have these years that make saying goodbye so difficult. This is why my grief is not only met, but outshone by my gratitude. We, as seniors, are on the edge of our cocoons. Still feeling the comfort of the recognizable, still soaking in every last drop, yet simultaneously preparing our hearts and minds for unfamiliar and boundless futures ahead of us. The feeling must be described as a sort of suspension between flight and free-falling.

So here we are, the Class of 2022, preparing for takeoff. I am so proud to call myself a graduate of Fredericksburg High School along the sides of many beautiful people. To approach this ending is the shift between what was and what will be. To approach this ending is full of both appreciation and heartbreak. To approach this ending is inevitably, to approach this beginning