One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Olivia Shi (UIUC ’23), who lived in 1506D during her senior year. She was captain of dance team and she was heavily involved in dancing throughout her time at IMSA in culture shows and other places on campus.
If you want to listen along: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/76l2no0IBVVb3NtrNNn0h1
This Girl – Kungs, Cookin’ on 3 Burners
- Now, this is the first song I’ve ever choreographed anything to. This is the song that Priyanka and I were in charge of for COTH 2017. Our theme was danger z0ne6 and our song was the first song to play; it was sort of the calm before the storm. I remember being so honored to be asked as a sophomore to help choreograph for drill and I was so nervous as to what people would think. I barely remember the dance anymore but the walk-and-snaps will forever be ingrained in my mind to this song.
Lovers’ Carvings – Bibio
- Sophomore year was pretty calm, but still super exciting. I got to meet so many new and interesting people that I looked up to. I was just excited to be at a school filled with people as passionate as I was about math and science! I also started talking to someone who will end up making a huge impact on my life later. Little did I know that spending six hours in my pajama pants and catching snowflakes on my tongue from the first snowfall of that year would lead to a year-long commitment.
Kitchen Door – Wolf Larsen // If I Get High – Nothing But Thieves
- Let’s be real. IMSA wouldn’t be IMSA without some dark times. These were the songs that I found myself sobbing to whenever I felt like things were out of my control. When things got really bad, I’d lock myself in the bathroom with the lights off, one of these songs blasting through my earbuds, while I sat against the wall letting the music consume my mind. At times, this would help calm me down so I could get back on the grind, and other times I’d be propelled into a web of dark thoughts that never seemed to stop spiraling. It wasn’t hard to doubt myself and my place here at IMSA during these times. I was your classic angsty teen: mad at the world for my own problems.
- For my sixteenth birthday, Priyanka, Surya, Patrick Pynadath, and I went to my third concert: Brockhampton. This concert was absolutely insane. I managed to fight my way into the front two rows and touched every single one of the members’ hands. After the concert ended, we all went to McDonalds and bought McFlurries to cool down. The weekend after, my friends and I ordered Chinese food as a way to celebrate on campus and was surprised by a 10 minute video Kanika put together of all of my friends describing our friendships and I sobbed throughout the whole video. I vowed to make Kanika cry out of happiness for her birthday too. (I did)
How to Never Stop Being Sad – Dandelion Hands
- Junior year was the absolute worst year for me at IMSA; not because the academy was out to get me, not because there was infinite friend drama, and not even because of my parents. It was because I began to become apathetic to everything and everyone. If I didn’t have any expectations, then there was no way for me to get hurt in the end. This year, I had gone through my first breakup which was absolutely painful to go through. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t do well academically, I wasn’t happy with who I was becoming, and I didn’t have my priorities straight, so I chose nihilism over trying to better myself. There were days where I didn’t think I’d live to walk for graduation, much less graduate from college. By the end of the year, I had recognized my victimizing tendencies and inability to communicate my feelings properly. I put myself onto an optimistic path.
Multi-Love – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
- I began reaching out to more people, in hopes of making some new friends. Thankfully, a handful of people came into my life at the perfect time because I needed a fresh start from the thunderstorm that was my sophomore and junior years. From putting together a thousand-piece puzzle to fun dinner dates, I felt like I had found people who not only I felt comfortable with, but also wanted to be around me. I felt so much love from them that I will forever be grateful for because, without them, I don’t know where I’d be today. One of them, in particular, would become a significant part of my life very soon. Who knew being forced to go to the gym with someone would result in another year-long commitment.
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
- COTH 2018 has to be one for the books. This year, my hall won clash. To be honest, I don’t really know how since I never really felt a sense of hall unity throughout the weeks of preparation, but we somehow managed to pull it off. I will forever be so proud of our drill because it looked better than I imagined it to be and at the end, the whole gym was screaming the lyrics to Billie Jean which made my heart soar. I was so happy to be involved with more of clash this year, especially with drill and hall decs. I had so much fun throughout the weeks of preparation and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Dancing Queen – ABBA
- This year, I was the dancing queen, young and sweet, just turned 17. I felt the beat from the tambourine, so I can dance, I can jive, having the time of my life. I feel like this year I never really stopped dancing. After dance team started, Diwali started, then lunar came two seconds later, then the clash grind, and now Casa. Even though my IMSA career is filled with nonstop dancing, I wouldn’t have it any other way. IMSA allowed me to appreciate dancing a lot more and it really has become a big part of my identity. I don’t think I’ll ever stop dancing (even though I won’t be the dancing queen ever again).
Under Cover of Darkness – The Strokes
- This song is absolutely perfect. I think it perfectly captures my change in attitude this year: “We got the right to live, fight to use it. Got everything but you can just choose it. I won’t just be a puppet on a string”. I honestly don’t fully know what happened, but almost like a switch in my mind, I forced myself out of my depressive rut and exposed myself to a new perspective on life; one that didn’t revolve around nihilism. I honestly think I just had to get my head out of my behind and realize that the only person holding me back, was myself. Because of this, I haven’t felt this clear-minded since middle school.
With Me – dvsn
- With a new mindset came new opportunities for friends. Senior year was the year of new friends. I’ve gotten so close to so many new people who make me extremely happy. Whether we played each other over Tetris for hours or complained about Russian class, I’m so grateful to have gotten so close with them. Like the end of junior year, it was almost like a breath of fresh air. I found out that I have the exact same music taste as some people, and very different music tastes with others. Nevertheless, if it weren’t for music, I don’t know if I’d be as close with some of these friends as I am now.
Valentine – 5 Seconds of Summer // Deep End -Lykke Li // Rest Easy, I’ll See You Again – Cuco
- Of course, senior year comes with college applications. When I would write my last few college applications, I would always go to my local coffee shop, order a milk tea, and put these few songs on repeat for eight hours. It was exhausting and by the end of the process, my brain was fried of any creative juices left. I don’t really know where I’m going to end up, but no matter what, I’m going to a school that fits me and support me in what I want. I’m excited to see what my future hold for me!
Dance Moves – Franc Moody // Taking Pictures of You – The Kooks
- These two songs are my current favorite songs. These will honestly probably change in a week or so, but as I sit here at my desk finishing this up, I am totally okay with that. Nothing is permanent. As you can tell by my IMSA autobiography (or discography?), I went through infinitely many different experiences that helped make me who I am today. I really hope, no matter good or bad, your IMSA experiences also help you become a better version of yourself. Celebrate the good, conquer the bad. I mean, we can’t really control what happens to us, might as well have a good time along the way. (-: