I was once a scared freshman entering High School and now I'm a freshman again, but this time in college.
I've been told high school would be the best four years of my life, and if that's the case I’m a little worried. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed high school (just kidding). I only say that because senior year was good and that’s what my mind associates with high school.
High School was tough for me. I battled depression, anxiety, and therapy sessions all while trying to survive freshman chemistry. I blame this on my first high school, which was a religious Baptist school. I'm Catholic and I didn’t fit in at all.
I danced competitively throughout middle and high school. I had been told “dancing leads to sex.” Well, that’s a far fetched idea. I had an art teacher proclaim we’d go to hell if we didn’t believe the school’s teachings.
During a class discussion, I was too afraid to ask if gay people went to hell. I had my friend ask instead and my teacher said, "Well, where do sinners go?" and my friend said, "To hell." The teacher then said, "Well that's your answer."
This really rubbed me the wrong way. I was tired of crying over religion and I was done thinking God hated me and everyone else. I decided to be an Atheist. I was an angry teenager upset with everyone and felt like I was the problem. Eventually, I developed extreme anxiety and couldn't come to school without almost puking.
I missed nearly an entire quarter of school. This is where I developed my notorious emo phase. I listened to heavy metal and screamo (my favorite was Pierce the Veil and I still like them), and I sat in my bedroom alone. Dance was no longer my outlet, and I eventually stopped completely. I was a wreck.
I was losing all interest, losing friends, and losing myself. But by the grace of God, I made it through. I sought help at school, but was not helped at all. Instead, I was told to get out. I was told I didn’t belong there. At the end of my sophomore year, I said goodbye to my only two friends and left.
My new school was an all-girls-school run by nuns. Turns out, Sisters are the nicest people, and not wearing makeup every day is a blessing. The term "Sailor Sisters," as cringey as it is, actually described us. Not that everyone got along, but you really did feel at home.
My junior year began with a navy uniform and a Virgin Mary necklace they called the Miraculous Medal. I was yelled at my first day for having my phone out at 7:55 a.m. Later, I’d meet a girl in my Spanish class who would help me find my closest friends.
My biggest challenge that year was my faith. I didn’t want to find it again; I only wanted to block it out. My religion teacher was amazing, but I couldn’t recognize this. But for now, I hated her. I saw her as another person chastising me.
I even wrote a horrible reflection about her and this brought me in for a talk. I stumbled into her classroom and she asked if I was okay. I finally broke down. I told her I was angry, and how my old school damaged my faith. This was the beginning of my conversion. We talked, I cried, and I was told I was loved and that she would help me.
She cleared some of the fog in my head and opened my eyes. All of a sudden, the women before me was not a malicious teacher judging my soul, she was a human helping me. I softened up, and my heart began to repair itself, however, I wouldn’t call myself a Catholic until my Senior year.
I lived that year confused, but sane. Before I knew it, I was a senior. I took some rad classes like forensics, yearbook, STEM, and a morality class. Because of my previous grudge with religion, I was weary of my morality class. I don’t like people telling me what is right and wrong, I'll like to find out on my own.
But, God intervened. This class challenged me and taught me so much. I was learning to strengthen my conscience and learning about “good.” How the chains of religion aren’t really chains, but a path to freedom.
They showed me that I was enough and that my flaws make me who I am. I was created in God’s image. I learned how feeling down is necessary to highlight the joys of being up. I learned the value of human life, including my own. It’s changed my views on important issues, like abortion and feminism, and it showed me the vulnerability of those around me. I wanted to be a helper to those in need.
All of a sudden, God was real in my life. I’m not perfect, and I have a lot of catching up to do with my faith, but now life is more than just getting by. I am defeating depression and anxiety and becoming the person I was meant to be.
My faith went through some growing pains. But, it wasn’t the only thing I learned along the way.I learned that friendship means putting yourself last and being there for others. I learned to branch out and meet new people.
High school left me feeling confident. It taught me who I was and what I wanted in life. You need to enjoy it while you can. Time never stops, and the people you see now won’t be there forever. They will turn to memories as you grow up and head off to college. I will pass my uniform onto a younger sister in the school. I will say goodbye to my favorite teachers for one last time, and this time it won’t be “goodbye until tomorrow morning.”
It's been a few months since I graduated high school. i start college in just a few days. High school may not have been the best years of my life, but it was crucial in my development as a person. I may seem overly dramatic, but I will miss it.
I will miss the comfort of knowing who my friends are, where my classes are, and where I'll be sitting at lunch. Soon I start another four years of figuring it out. I know I'll struggle with lots of things in college, but deep down I know I'm ready.
For an extended version, check out https://madeleinemccracken.wordpress.com/.