Since the day I entered high school it has been constantly drilled into my head that junior year is the worst. That I won't know stress until junior year, I won't know real drama until junior year, and I won't learn about myself more than I will junior year. Freshman year, when I skipped multiple days of school due to stress and the inability to sit through another class period of Honors Bio, I was told by teachers and coaches and upperclassmen, "Just wait until junior year." Sophomore year, when I managed my first B+'s in two classes and suffered through my first AP class, the phrase still persisted: "just wait until junior year."

Though I didn't really believe what everyone said about junior year, I was still terribly nervous for what the year would bring me. I spoke with seniors in the class above me before the year began and remember them telling me my friend group would change, my grades would change, everything would change. I didn't believe it - how could things be so different? I'd been best friends with the same girl since seventh grade, how could that friendship end? I had gotten all (but two B+'s) A's throughout my time in high school, and I never was, and still am not, into the party scene or anything affiliated. Even then, I walked into my junior year with a good amount of skepticism, masked by my enthusiasm and confidence for another strong year. Within the first week things felt off. I was not my normal happy self and I was struggling - already. I began to struggle with multiple classes, not just one. It all came down on me hard, and I was not ready for it.

Soon my relationships began to fall. My relationship with my friends and my family and my boyfriend all became wary, and they all were trying different ways to "fix" what was wrong with me - which ended up being a lapse of depression and anxiety. My friendships continued to fall apart as my two closest friends and I acted as if nothing was going wrong, with an underlying awkwardness that came with every time we hung out. As it was becoming more apparent that things would not work in my favor, and I kept falling further and further away from who I actually was, I began losing my friends, my support, and most noticeably myself. I was constantly feeling sorry for myself but simultaneously feeling horrible for the things that I was doing to my friends who were truly just trying to help me. On top of that, I was struggling with my schoolwork and falling very behind on assignments. My grades had never been that consistently low in my life. I started therapy and disliked every minute of it; it was exhausting and I dreaded it every single time I had to go.

As my junior year of high school came to a much happier close, I took with me some very important lessons. First, I've learned that it is okay to let someone go if they are not good for you or your happiness, no matter how long you've known them for. I've also learned that losing friends is hard, but things will always work out in your favor if you just keep pushing through. I have grown away from some of the most important people in my life this year, but I have also become closer with others that I would not wish to ever lose. I've learned that friends will come and go, but family is forever, and to not take for granted the love that I receive from family. I've learned that writing is a very good stress reliever (and is a safe and non-destructive way to let out anger), that you can't always trust everyone you are close to, and that sometimes time to yourself is the best medicine. But most importantly I've learned to never, ever give up. Had I given up, my grades would be much below sub-par, I wouldn't have the friends that I do, and I wouldn't have reached the happiness and contentment that I am at now. Junior year has most definitely been the hardest year I've had to endure, but I made it through and I am undoubtedly a much stronger person because of it.