Yesterday I was going through some old papers — mainly shredding things — and happened to come across a folder with my name on it. It was where my mom had kept my SAT and ACT scores, as well as the results of my AP tests. I immediately filed this, thinking, “Well, that’s not the sort of thing you should throw away.”
Then I stopped. Why did I naturally make this assumption? These pieces of data had served their intended purpose more than ten years ago. I needed the ACT scores once after that in order to teach at Princeton Review — not a bad experience, but one I’m not planning on repeating. The value of the AP scores (if any) had long been absorbed into a transcript of actual educational experiences, and I know for a fact that in the past I have treated my transcripts and even diplomas with less care.
I suppose it goes to show that these rituals that happen when we are 17 or 18 — and perhaps especially rituals of evaluation — stay with us. But in the context of all the other documents around me, I thought, it makes sense to intentionally declare that they shouldn’t. In our very full lives, with marriages and jobs and dogs and cats and cars and kids, it seems worth it to consciously let this stuff go.
To the shredder, then.