Confessions of a High School Graduate
I am a very different person than I was when I walked into freshman year four years ago. I have been stressed, beaten down, lonely, and heartbroken. Reflecting, I have never felt more myself than I do sitting here and writing this post. I want anyone younger than me to take it with a grain of salt, and realize that growing up gets better. Stay focused on who YOU are and what YOU want.
While I can't say my high-school experience was at all normal, I am going to try and curate this towards the general teenage population. I want to start by saying this:
The first lesson I'd like to cover came quickly; overloading yourself. Freshman year, I was involved in the marching band, water polo, and swim team. Although I didn't feel like I was truly a part of any of them, because I was constantly running from one practice to the next.
On top of that, this was the middle of an eating disorder and numbers of health issues. Luckily, I took control fast and finished all three off, keeping my commitment. But sophomore year I slowed things down and just competed in swimming.
High school is a great time to try new things, but it's also a developmental period in terms of time management. Many students make hard decisions and give up what they once valued. Don't worry too much, this is simply a part of growing up, and everyone around you is feeling the same way.
During this time, as well as my sophomore year, I was highly encouraged by my parents, doctors, and family to start going to therapy. I REFUSED. Which takes me to my next lesson, THERAPY IS NORMAL AND HEALTHY AND LIKE THE GYM BUT FOR YOUR BRAIN.
I hold a lot of regret for having not gone earlier for the sake of the people that I love. Long story short, I ended up in trauma therapy after my mom died in 2017 to treat PTSD. At that point, I knew I had to go but didn't realize all of what I had been going through before losing her would resurface. I have had pretty severe anxiety from a young age. After refusing meds for an additional year and a half, I finally decided to balance my serotonin levels, which has helped me in ways I can't even begin to explain.
Clearly, my circumstances are rather extreme, but my point is that the simple stress and anxiety of being a teenage girl is something that talking to someone about is incredibly beneficial (what I needed before the tragedy arose). We need to talk about mental health instead of closeting it.
Ok so yeah my mom died, and I realized the whole "oh my god I could die tomorrow!" ordeal, which I think for anyone who experiences loss can say alters their perspective. I stopped planning so damn much and just started going for it. I stopped eating meat and got a tattoo and a bikini wax even though I'm pretty sure my grandmother would not approve (all of which happened senior year after I turned 18). I started saying yes to more and no to less. I didn't wait until college to start living my life. And the tattoo is for my mother if you're wondering. This blog post is not intended to encourage tattoos that will be of deep regret by age 30.
If you came here for dating advice, I can't really help you. No long-term relationship occurred during my high school years. I'm happy about it. I feel like I spent all of age 14-18 building myself up, discovering my likes and dislikes and adapting to my young adult identity. I have always been mature and ahead of the game, so I feel like that kind of self-discovery is a gift, really. To have spent so much time investing in my future, where I wanted to go to school, internships, mental health, etc. That time could have been spent pouring into someone else's bucket, but it was spent pouring into mine. While what I am saying is not necessarily advice or what is right/wrong, it's my story, my high school confession. Honestly? I'm pretty damn happy about it.
Now let's talk about the real challenge... friends. I didn't have many for a long time. I was very good at isolating myself, eating lunch while doing my homework in the library for four years (which I came to love actually). Three, very important things helped me overcome my loneliness and surround myself with people who I feel loved and appreciated by.
1.) I ditched the friend groups. "Groups" may work for you, but to me, it felt binding, stressful, and hard to connect with all of the members when there was such a clique. I am friends with groups of friends, but I don't consider myself a part of a "friend group."
2.) I became friends with those who are different from me. My workout buddy is my 26-year-old yoga teacher who I connected with over health and wellness. I went to school in downtown Columbus for a year and stepped out of my suburban comfort zone, of which brought me one of my best friends. I still grab lunch with teachers who have made a powerful impact on me. I stopped looking at only the kids in my grade at my school and started looking into the world around me.
3.) I rekindled old friendships. Maybe that be your first-grade best friend or even someone you may have had a falling out with. It's not too late to start over.
A few more things to keep in mind:
your life becomes significantly better the day you learn to drive
the less social media, the better
grades are not more important than your mental health
test anxiety is real and does not alter your intelligence
teachers can be mentors and friends
pack your lunch
boys are not worth crying over
I think I have covered my the best of my confessions. I would love to hear what you have to say about high school either in the comments or on my Instagram @abundantly.annanoel!
Here's to the next chapter!
All the love,