Whoops, I peaked in high school

Four years of college later, I can see my Golden Years came early


John Patterson is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Chandler Collins | Cavalier Daily

You know, I’ve been reserving judgement until my last semester of college. But now, after adequately taste-testing the collegiate experience, I can definitely say I peaked in high school.

You should have seen me then. During my zenith, I ran the game in those halls. Every morning my mom would drop me off at the front door — she worked at my school so we carpooled like champions — and every morning I would walk in with my confidence unscathed as the rest of the senior class hung out in the parking lot.

To be specific, I peaked during our homecoming football game. But it wasn’t even a big deal — I don’t even reminisce about Oct. 4, 2014, at approximately 2:45 p.m. that often. Our football team was tied 7-7 going into halftime. Many people were excited about this, especially our quarterback. I could tell because we stood next to each other on the field during halftime. His hair was slick and his muscles glimmered with sweat. He had mud on his uniform and a determined gaze in his eyes. I stood next to him, looking like my perennially oily self.

“The homecoming king is … ” the announcer said.

The numbers on our quarterback’s chest rose and fell with his deep breaths. I fidgeted with my clip-on bowtie. I waited for the announcer to say his name so I could leave and take it off.

“John Patterson!”

The tepid applause roared in my ears. Our principal walked up and put the plastic crown on my head. That instant serves as the defining moment of my life — the line splitting the flow of time in two. To the left laid my past as a plebeian nobody. To my right I saw my future. I saw the ceaseless strife of how to incorporate my homecoming royalty into conversations. It’s never easy.

That was back when I won things. Do you remember when we won awards? Sure, the University gives out awards too, but you have to be one of those meta-humans who does all their readings or looks suspiciously happy all the time to win one of those. Back in high school, you could also steroid-up your GPA beyond a 4.0 with AP classes. Now whenever I take “college level courses” I feel like my GPA gets smacked.

Actually, maybe I reached the pinnacle of my existence later in senior year on May 1, 2015, at around 9 p.m. That’s when one of the coolest girls at our school took me — me! — to our Sadie Hawkins dance. Sure, I barely talked to her during the dance because I had to go coordinate the placement of the flower petals or something, but still. M.C. if you’re out there, I’m out here too, you feel?

Actually, now that I think about it, I peaked second year — definitely second year. I had stopped carpooling with my mom by then and had my license and my car. Also, unlike high school, I got invited to a few parties. I went through my final fit of teenage angst. I also went to my ECON 2010 TA’s office hours every week, and he convinced me to major in economics. Thanks, Ian!

Plot twist — I peaked last semester. It was one big reboot of a semester. I pulled a lot of different parts of my life together. I started acting like my own best friend, you know? I’m willing to say it rivaled my literal crowning achievement back on that football field.

O.K., I know this is getting old. But I peaked this past weekend, guys. I just had a really solid Saturday.

Actually, I don’t know anymore. Maybe life isn’t a mountain but a mountain range, with multiple summits and valleys to scale, and from the peak of one, you can see the next one peering out of the clouds in the distance. I don’t think it’s fair to myself to compare different phases of my life on some universal scale. Maybe I should be dedicating my energy to making memories instead of replaying the ones I already have. 

From here, if I squint, I can see big things farther down my timeline. I could get, like, married, bro. I could have kids — hopefully cool kids. I’ll definitely host wine and cheese parties. I can’t wait to slap some Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Gouda together and throw a rager for the age-30-and-up crowd.

“So,” I’ll begin, placing the cheese and wine pairs on the glass platter, “did any of your high schools do homecoming kings and queens?”

John Patterson is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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