What I Learned In High School: It's Not Age, It's Attitude
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Politics and Activism

What I Learned In High School: It's Not Age, It's Attitude

I'm young for my grade, but I'm still ready to graduate.

What I Learned In High School: It's Not Age, It's Attitude
Sabrina Ruff

Since this is my last year of high school, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and have been experiencing a lot of nostalgia. I look back on all my years of school, I remember all the relationships, friendships, good times, bad times, moments I’ll keep with me forever, and moments I’m still trying to forget. There’s one important question that stands out in my mind. What’s the most important thing I’ve learned in my high school years?

I could argue that it was learning what I want to do with the rest of my life. In the beginning of high school, I knew I loved psychology. I like fighting for justice (and if you read my last article, you would agree), so I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Then those ideas morphed and changed and now I think I want to be an archaeologist, since I have a passion for history and a hankering for travel. This is a strong answer to the question, but when I think about the future, I always think about my age.

When I was younger, I moved schools constantly because my parents felt I wasn’t being challenged. Eventually I skipped a grade at the beginning of middle school. Ever since then, in my social circles, I’ve been surrounded by people older than me. I’m still only 16 (although I turn 17 next month), and I’m graduating from high school in May. By my calculations, I’ll be turning 21 two months before I graduate college.

I was recently asked my age, and when I told them, they were baffled. “I’m young for my grade” they said, and “I totally didn’t act like a sixteen-year-old at all.” These remarks were not surprising to me. I’ve heard these kinds of things ever since I can remember. My parents always praised me for being mature for my age. Teachers, friends, people at work, are always taken aback when I reveal how young I am. In fact, when I was in 8th grade, I was asked if I had already graduated high school. So not only do I look older than I am, but I also act like it. That’s what made me think about what I’ve really learned in high school.

I’ve always struggled with this fact. I almost never tell people how old I am, but if they ask, I reluctantly tell them, and then back it up with qualifications like “I skipped a grade,” “I look older than I am,” and “but don’t worry, I’ve always been told that I’m very mature for my age.” I never feel like I can tell someone my age without it tainting our relationship. Instead of seeing me as their equal, as a friend, they see me as someone to babysit, someone who’s immature and all our past experiences together seem to go out the window. It doesn’t ruin our friendship altogether, but I always feel like I’ve taken a step back and must work my way back to being perceived as intellectually equal once again.

But reflecting on my relationships and friendships I’ve had in high school, I can concede that most of this has been paranoia. I realize I need to start giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been through school in a different way than most people, and yet I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on any experiences. I feel like I’ve still experienced everything, in the same way that people who haven’t skipped a grade or moved schools have. I feel like a senior, I feel like I’ve lived enough life and experienced enough school to be a senior. I started to realize that I couldn’t feel this way if high school- and life- depended on my age. What really matters is my attitude.

I think about how I would feel if I somehow had to go back to junior year with the rest of my peers, and this terrifies me. I know that this is because I’ve already been through it, and I feel like I’ve taken all I can take from it. If I were to experience it all again it would just be empty, with nothing there for me to take with me towards the future. I’ve learned that this is how I should approach every day- as a new experience to fully appreciate and learn from every angle, so that I can say that if I were to experience it all again, it would be boring because I’ve already learned everything I can from it. I look to the future, taking everything I’ve learned along with me in a mental handbasket, ready to use. Regardless of my age, I’ve learned what I should learn to be where I am in life. I may be only 16 but I am a senior, living every day as one. How old I am doesn’t matter.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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