Dispelling Myths About High School
When I was growing up, my only introduction to what high school would be like was on TV. This meant “Mean Girls”, “High School Musical”, and teen TV shows like “Zoey 101” and others from Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Each of what I saw had a formula one will find on any web search: cliques and after school clubs determining your label (which you are supposedly stuck with for life), teachers who either don’t understand you or are “the one”, endless amounts of homework, competition among schoolmates in being the best, and the need to have a relationship. Though everyone’s experience in high school will differ in one way or another, the things played up in high school movies and dramas truthfully don’t matter for as much as they are given credit.
For all purposes, yes there are popular girls and guys. Sometimes they’re jocks and cheerleaders and other times they’re not. Either way, I want you to know that popularity doesn’t equate to success in life. I was a shy nerd in high school who read books like they were going out of style, and I still went to the college of my dreams. I was still a nerd in college, but my “nerd label” helped me to make new friends and showed me that my label doesn’t have to define me as a person. I’m not just a nerd, and neither were my nerdy friends from high school and college. Meanwhile, choosing to confine yourself to one label doesn’t do anyone any good. It limits yourself as to what else you might like, and it presents a limited perspective of yourself to others. Adding to this, it’s okay to be passionate about what you do and do not have interest in, but I also want to add that opening yourself up to new experiences (within reason) is okay; joining a club you may not have thought twice about considering, asking to sit with a group of other kids at lunch or inviting someone eating alone (we’ve all been there), and getting to know some of your teachers and professors can be beneficial in the long run. These things DON’T make you a geek or a nerd. It’s okay to be involved.
When you are involved in academics, there will come a time when some form of competition will rear its head into the situation. While healthy competition is natural, competition in being the best at something shouldn’t be what defines your high school experience. In the end, being the “most popular”, “president of the school”, etc. isn’t something that determines your future. You’ll be entering a world full of popular boys and girls, school presidents, head cheerleaders, valedictorians, computer wizards, athletes, you name it. From watching others, those still clinging onto their former selves (i.e. those who still wear their letter jackets) have a harder time adapting to college. People change, relationships change, and you discover new things about yourself. While there is competition in college sports and academics (to a lesser degree), you don’t need to be “the best” at everything. From personal experience, you will break down and hurt yourself. I’m not saying don’t put in any effort; do so, but remember in college you can have fun. It’s all about balance.
College adds new responsibilities you don’t find in high school. You don’t have parents or teachers monitoring you, dress coding you, and making sure you’re attending classes (unless you’re on academic probation, but that’s something else). I was the one who was solely in charge of waking up, getting ready, and having my homework done. Sometimes it was a lot, but controlling my schedule helped. High school was different. Same classes each day most of the time and extracurriculars often didn’t help. Some teachers may get a little generous when it comes to homework assignments, but my advice would be to do the heaviest load first. If it gets to be too much, there is no harm in asking teachers for an extension, catch-up period, or letting them know how much their coursework is affecting you. Contrary to popular belief, high school teachers are understanding of their students. Sometimes they might be out of touch, but they do mean well. Additionally, if you can find one teacher that inspires you, it’s perfectly fine to have that teacher as a friend. They can serve not only as a teacher, but also a counselor, confidant, and someone you can have lunch with in the classroom if you’re alone. That was the case for me. Sadly, there were teachers I met that didn’t seem to enjoy their job; they’re hardly given the praise teachers should get and they often work so hard for so little in return.
In (nearly) every high school movie I’ve seen, there’s always someone in a relationship, trying to get out of one, or trying to get in a new one. This made me think I was a failure if I didn’t have a boyfriend within my four years. By the end, I “failed.” I was the one whose friends were in and/or out of relationships, but from that, I learned what I did and didn’t want in a relationship. Additionally, I could focus my time on school, friends, family, and alone time. While there was a guy I wish I could’ve dated, I’m glad to still have him as a friend. In general, I feel like high school relationships are overplayed to the point where they seem meaningless. To those who maintain their relationship through college and onward are, in my perspective, a select few. In high school, you start to figure yourself out. In college, you truly start figuring out your identity and what you really want out of life. You do more growing up in college than high school. While it is okay to maintain your relationship with your high school significant other (S.O.), being in that relationship shouldn’t be what defines you nor should it be the reason you go to a certain school (i.e. turning down going to a dream school to go to the same on your S.O. is going to).
If you want to take away anything about high school myths is that any one label shouldn’t be your definition; of yourself or anyone you may or may not know. High school is where you can grow, meet new people, and maybe even figure out what you want to do for college or another way you decide on continuing your education. You have the power in how you let your experiences define and shape you. Don’t let others and your misconceptions do it for you.
Written by an Empowerteen Creative Writer Student Intern:
Idalis Nieves (2018 Linfield College Graduate, Creative Writing Major)
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