On June 4, 2017, I graduated from one of the top high schools in the country that bred unnecessary competition and school-fueled angst. By the end of my senior year, I felt completely and utterly burned out, and I swore that I would no longer stress myself out to the extent that I did throughout high school.
My high school career was full of twists and turns; in the summer going into my junior year, I moved from a suburb fifteen minutes away from New York City in Bergen County, NJ, to a more rural area in Sarasota, Florida. I went to the local public high school in this area, moving from a school that had less than 200 students per grade to a school that had over 500 students per grade. I found it difficult to adapt to this school that was so different than my own, and tried everything I could to get out of it.
During my junior year, I was determined to transfer to a gifted high school that required extensive testing to get into. Thinking about these tests would keep me up late at night, knowing that my entire future depended on how well I performed on these academic and IQ tests.
Fortunately, I performed well enough to transfer to this gifted high school and leave behind the local public high school; I believed that my senior year, while I would not immediately feel comfortable in this new atmosphere, would definitely be better than my junior year. It was a smaller school with people who were as focused on school as I had always been, and I had high expectations.
However, I found senior year to be one of the craziest years of my life. I was balancing five Advanced Placement classes, a long-term relationship, long-distance friendships, over a dozen college applications, working five days a week- all on top of trying to acclimate to a new school in which most of the people had known each other for ten years.
Stressed didn't even begin to cover it.
For me, June 4 could not come fast enough. I needed to be done with all the stressors that had come along with my senior year and start over. I was tired of feeling like an outcast because I was the new kid and wanted somewhere that I felt I belonged to.
I write this article a full year later, with my freshman year of college under my belt. I remember how desperate I was to get out of not just high school, but Florida itself. I was angry at the world for tearing me away from the only place I had ever called home, angry at my peers for not making an effort to include me in social activities, angry at some of my teachers for not helping me when I went to them for guidance and friendship.
I was so angry that I could not see the bright side of the situation I was in.
While I was torn away from the only place I had ever called home, I was able to make a new home in Florida and make some new best friends. I made friends in both the high schools that I attended; my two best friends both were at the school I attended junior year, but we still talk every day. My best friend even came to my graduation just to show her support for me.
While I never did find my niche in the two schools that I went to, I got my first real job as a hostess in a restaurant that I love with everything in me, and was able to find a place I belong amongst my coworkers. I have a home there and am able to pick back up my shifts when I come home during breaks from college, and there are always familiar faces there to welcome me back.
While many of my teachers were apathetic towards me, I was lucky enough to have three teachers that have truly impacted who I am as a person today. My AP Literature teacher treated me as though I was her equal and not just her student and was able to joke around with me and advise me in the same sentence, something which I had rarely experienced before. I would sometimes skip her class because it was the last period of the day and I was, to be frank, too miserable to stay in school any longer, and she would poke fun at me for missing class but would never reprimand me because she understood that we had things going on outside of school.
Don't get me wrong, high school DID suck- but there were so many things and people that I didn't fully appreciate because I was so bitter about being picked up and replanted in the middle of high school.
When I graduated, I was so ready to be done with my high school self, but I wish she would have realized just how lucky she actually was to have such a unique high school experience- after all, it makes for great Odyssey articles!