High school. I can remember the first day of my freshman year so vividly, walking through those double doors thinking, “I can’t wait for these amazing 4 years ahead of me!” However, I was wrong. Very wrong. I know everyone says that high school is great, and the best, and something you’ll remember forever. Well, I definitely will remember forever, but not because they were the greatest times of my life.

For me, whenever I look back on my high school memories, I cringe. My 4 years of high school were filled with drama, fake friends, and ridiculous dress code rules.

I grew up and attended school in a small town, and graduated with about 54 people in my class. Everyone knew everyone, and you had little to no privacy. You couldn’t do anything without people knowing about it the next day. It was always so annoying. What was even worse? The small school drama. Whenever I would tell my friends from bigger schools about what would happen in my high school, they would be shocked, or say something like “Nothing like that ever happens in my school.” And it was true. The drama and the rumors were by far the worst part about high school. I can recall many times whenever I heard a rumor about me that was going around the school that wouldn’t even be true.

I also learned the hard way who were and weren’t my friends. I had multiple friends walk out of my life who always promised that they would be there for me until the end. Whenever you have a friend turn their back on you in a small school, it hurts a lot more than it normally would. Why? You see them every single day. There’s absolutely no such thing as avoiding them, and even if you try, you won’t be able to because everyone else in the school will know about it.

I also never really felt at home in high school. I never sat back and looked at the people I was surrounded by and thought “These are my people.” or felt like I belonged. I always caught myself looking towards college, and my future career, and finally getting out of high school.

Lastly, I always felt like I was being restricted from the person I actually wanted to be, out of fear of being judged or criticized. I felt like I was constantly being treated like a child still. I was more than ready to be independent and to live on my own. The day I drove away from that town and saw it disappear in my rearview mirror was the best day of my life. I finally felt the freedom to be myself. It was raining that day; however, I had a bright smile on my face and a bright new outlook on how the next four years of my life were going to go. On that day, there was no raining on my parade.

Now, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t learn a lot of good lessons while in high school. I would also be lying if I said that there weren’t a few good things about high school. During those 4 years, I got really close to some teachers who helped me make it through the day, especially if I was having a bad one. I was also lucky to find a great group of friends that proved time and time again to be true friends. I am still friends with them to this day, and I honestly don’t know how I would have been able to go through high school without them. However, I’d be telling you the biggest lie ever if I told you that the reason I was crying on my graduation day was because I was going to miss high school. No, those weren’t tears of sadness. They were tears of joy because I was finally starting my journey that I had been so patiently waiting on.