Dear High School, From An Alumna Who Just Finished Freshman Year Of College

Dear High School, From An Alumna Who Just Finished Freshman Year Of College

I may not have known it at the time, but you prepared me for the ride of my life.

530
views

It was about this time last year that I was practically pulling my hair out because I was so close to the end of high school. Graduation was so close I could taste it. The air was warm, classes were dwindling down, and the classrooms I knew so well were cluttered with final papers waiting to be graded. Those four years went by so quickly, but at the same time, it felt like they dragged on forever.

I don't even know how I would describe high school. For me, it wasn't terrible, but by senior year, I could tell it was time for a change and I was itching to get out. In retrospect, I wish I would have held on to those final moments of high school. I wish I would have told my teachers how much I truly appreciated them. I wish I spent more time with my friends before I had to leave them for my next adventure. I wish I didn't take the warmth of familiar faces for granted.

I really thought that I knew everything back then. I thought that since I was amongst the older students at that school, there was nothing else that my high school could offer me. I had seen it all, learned all the tricks. I left high school knowing exactly what I wanted.

But here's the thing:

The way I see it now is that high school is not about figuring everything out. To me, high school is about preparing yourself to explore different opportunities and to give every one of those opportunities a fair chance. To me, high school is about acquiring skills that are necessary for any line of work so that you can enter college, or whatever that next step might be, fully equipped with the best of yourself.

Some people have their whole life planned out at an early age and they stick with that plan through and through. I applaud those people for finding something they love so much and committing to it wholeheartedly, but for a lot of us, the truth of the matter is that there is so much about the world and about ourselves that we do not know.

We owe it to ourselves to explore the unknown. Because what I have learned this past year is that one discovery leads to another and you never know what you might find along the way.

What I thought I wanted a year ago is vastly different than what I want now. And it's all because high school taught me to have an open mind about everything I do. High school taught me to put my best foot forward every step of the way. It taught me to stay humble and understand that there is something that I can learn from every person I meet. It taught me the value of exploration.

So, although I don't remember every math formula that I learned in those four years, the things that I do remember turned out to be much more valuable to me even if I didn't realize it at the time.

My advice to high school seniors as they count down the days until graduation: hold on to these moments, work hard until the end, stay humble, and always keep an open mind.

Popular Right Now

Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

72532
views

Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

How High School Destroyed My Self Esteem

Where did the confidence go?

253
views

Not too long ago my parents recovered a collection of home videos from my childhood, and recently, myself and the rest of my family have been taking the time to watch them. It has been quite an experience watching footage of a baby me crawling across the carpet or taking my first steps, but the videos of myself that I find I am most interested in watching are the videos of me when I was a little older, around elementary school age.

As is demonstrated in the multitude of videos featuring me dancing around my kitchen and finding ridiculous ways to get the attention of the camera, I was an outgoing, funny, and lively young girl. I didn't shy away from being the center of attention and was something of a comedian when the camera was turned my way. However, the reason I found these videos so interesting to watch was not just because I found my younger self hilarious. Instead, I was fascinated by the smaller me's enormous personality, because it is such a deviation from the way I am now. This led me to wonder, where did that girl go?

High school is a difficult time for all who experience it. Students face pressure to do well in their classes and meet expectations so that they can get into a good college, which often results in massive amounts of stress and anxiety. However, there are other, social, factors that make high school feel like a battlefield, factors that I, personally, had a difficult time overcoming and still affect me to this day.

When I look back on my four years of high school I realize that I placed far too much importance on popularity and fitting in. I had a set group of friends throughout high school and our group could be considered decently popular, which, at the time, quelled my anxieties about being unliked or alone. Because of these anxieties, I was desperate to keep my friends, even it meant spending time with people I didn't like or didn't make me feel good about myself, and had to teach myself lessons like hiding my true self in order to fit in. This resulted in much unhappiness because many of the friends that I had chosen to be with weren't great at being friends. They were mean, selfish, and often tore me down instead of showing me the support an insecure teenager needed from her friends.

As a result of having mediocre friends, it was often hard to feel like I had a support system when it came to dealing with the problems every teenager faces. Insecurities and lack of understanding about my own body led to weight, which didn't help boost my confidence either. To add to this, my friends, who I believed to be skinnier and prettier than me would often express dislike for the way they looked, which led me to believe that I had no reason to be confident in myself.

This culture of insulting oneself also increased my insecurity, as it left me feeling like I wasn't permitted to have confidence in myself, and instead had to tear myself down whenever I got the chance. Reflecting these negative feelings about myself instead of promoting body positivity warped my mind and made me feel unable to like the skin I was living in. There was no one to tell me that I was allowed to let myself feel good, to look in the mirror and like the girl that looked back at me. Instead, I felt pressure to conform.

So, to answer the previously posed question of where the little girl in the home videos went, here's the answer:

She didn't disappear. She was simply torn down by too many people, especially herself.

Related Content

Facebook Comments