I walked off of the field unsure that day. I was afraid of what the future would hold. Leaving behind all of my friends and teachers that had been with me since the beginning seemed like the most terrifying thing, but what I didn't know yet was that the life I was about to gain was worth the uncertainty.
Now don't get me wrong, my high school experience was great. I had great teachers and great friends and will cherish those people and memories forever, but what I didn't realize at the time was how limited I was. I had never branched out and made new friends or tried new things because I had never had to. I went to school with the same people my whole life, and though they were all amazing and taught me so much, you don't realize what you've been missing until you leave.
Immediately after I graduated I was immersed into a new world of work and college that was filled with new friends, new opportunities, and a chance to completely and ruthlessly edit my whole life. I realized that there was a whole other world out there that was filled with people who had entirely different beliefs and interests than me, and for the first time since I had started school when I was young, I had the chance to decide where I would belong amongst them.
I found that there were so many topics and things out there that interested me that I had never even heard of before. I was finally able to embrace all the things about myself that I had hidden because I thought they would make me look nerdy or uncool. I began keeping up with current events and things happening in politics and developed my own beliefs and ideas about everything happening around us.
Soon, I even started to notice myself grow more and more confident. Instead of feeling anxiety and fear of what others might think about me when I entered a room, I found myself not caring anymore. I had decided that if they didn't like me for who I was then they were not worth my time and I wouldn't try to be someone I am not just to please them.
In high school, there is such a stigma to belong in one specific group and everyone seems to put up a wall to hide who they really are. I fell victim to that, too. Once I left, though, I realized that those walls we build aren't doing us any favors and I didn't truly know who I was until I could be anyone I wanted to be. That's when I realized all the things I was missing.
Leaving high school might seem like the end of the most fun and stress-free times of your life, and in a way it is, but there is so much else out there that we don't see or realize until we're thrown out into it. That's when we find out who we are and what we are made of.