Hitting the road: Carolina’s 30

Carolina Gokingco

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I’ll preface this by stating how difficult it was to not take after my brother, Stephenson “straight savage” Gokingco and immediately use these final words to subtly criticize LASA. Maybe it’s the genes; maybe it’s just that my mind tends to focus on the physical dinginess of the building and the unshakeable feeling that I’m inhaling all the germs from everyone who refuses to miss school when they’re sick—I’m incredibly guilty of this myself. But even though the stress here must be a special kind of contagious that lends itself to creating a populus of high-strung overachievers, the stereotype is far from true.

I admittedly walked into freshman year a sad boop of a human who believed I’d be okay without friends during high school, but nearly four years later, I’ve grown into the kind of person I would’ve made fun of, the strangely dependent type who needs a friend to “go on an adventure” during lunch in search of plastic cutlery. And as much I’d like to attribute finding my group of friends—who could make time feel like nothing, whether we talked about the unfortunate names people gave their children or the tells we give when we’re the spy in Spyfall—to sheer luck, undeniably, I have LASA to thank because they must be doing something right when it comes to the student body.

I can’t recall ever feeling utterly out of place here, be it in class or in extracurriculars. Despite the panicked late nights and encroaching deadlines, I’ll remember how the strange conglomeration that is the Liberator staff worked. Despite the general, lingering apathy in one particular class, I’ll remember how a seemingly dissonant, yet eventually-grew-to-be-unusually-close class watched videos of a man downing 100 egg yolks. Despite viewing NHS sponsored hours as nothing but a chore, I’ll remember how unexpected it was to immediately click with people I’d never met who happened to equally enthusiastic about color coding the assortment of donated chip bags. And despite half-anticipating to feel something of a middle-age college student in Art I, I’ll remember how I met underclassmen who were still young and cheerful, yet also so cool.

One wouldn’t expect the environment at LASA to be conducive to enjoyment, apparent from all the posters telling us to square breathe and therapy dog Scout perhaps reminding us to have perspective—life isn’t just a sequence of project due dates and AP exams: There are also cute dogs! Nonetheless, I still found myself having more fun within those walls than, say, at ACL or homecoming (again, maybe it’s just me, since sweaty mobs and being short don’t mesh well). But LASA should have perpetuated quiet, freshman me, yet I’ll leave wishing I could’ve met more of my peers and know the ones I had the privilege of meeting better.

Approaching the Limbo between high school and college, I feel the same nerves and tenseness reminiscent to the first time I had to drive alone. Yes, there’s paperwork in my hand that certifies I’m ready, but there are lurking variables I can’t account for. I don’t know if I’ll ever find anyone like my group of friends who’ll play cards or Bananagrams and unconditionally deal with me in my under-or-over-caffeinated state, but I’m telling myself that if a place like LASA can consist primarily of the good, I’ll find a way to “sheer luck” my way through.