Courtesy of Noah Tesfaye
Noah Tesfaye, right, and Madison Woo pose in their college attire. Tesfaye heads to the University of Chicago in the fall.

By the time I leave for college at the end of September, nearly all of my peers will be gone. It’s kind of ironic that as the friend who was always longing to head to college, I’ll still be here while Los Altos High School starts its second month.

From the moment I understood the concept of college, I wanted to be there. I wanted the freedom to study whatever I was interested in, to no longer be one of few passionate about history or political science. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.

College meant the opportunity to change my life. That doesn’t mean just meeting new people or familiarizing myself with a new place. It means taking the opportunity to further understand who I want to become. For years, college was the frontier I wanted desperately to reach.

But now that I’m finally at that moment where I’m saying goodbye (for now) to the local people and places I’ve admired, I cannot help but wonder whether I missed some things. I question whether I was living too much for the future rather than prioritizing living in the present. Do I know for a fact that what I was doing all throughout high school was just a means to an end?

To be quite honest, yes. I may not have done things just because they would help me get into college, but I was definitely attempting to find as many things as I could to pass the time because I just wanted to get to move-in day.

I said “no” to spending time with friends so that I could study and be prepared, denied myself time with family, all in the hope of doing the best I could in high school so that I could go somewhere I thought was great.

I am beyond grateful to be heading off to the University of Chicago. It is not just an incredible school, but also the right place for me. To have the privilege to go there is something I remind myself how grateful I am for again and again. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how I wish I lived in the present these last few years, wish I took greater advantage of being with family.

I don’t believe in regret, because I cannot control every possible result of my actions before they happen. But I do know that there were moments when I felt overwhelmed with school or applications, and reaching out to people or getting outside would have helped.

When I leave in late September, there will be a moment when it will hit me that my life at home, in Los Altos, will be coming to a close. I don’t know how I’ll react or how to prepare for that moment, but I know it’s slowly approaching.

So I will work my hardest to make the most of this time before it ends. I’ll go with my friends to Red Rock for late-night coffee, explore Stanford’s campus and visit The City a few more times.

As far as I know, this isn’t a forever goodbye, but rather the end of the most crucial chapter in my life so far, and I’m grateful to have opportunities like writing for you all here in this community. ’Til next time ... .

Noah Tesfaye is a Town Crier intern.