Sunday, June 5, 2011

My High School Experience

Today I graduated high school. I'm not sure how you're supposed to feel on these occasions, if you're supposed to feel relieved, happy, sad, nostalgic, or disappointed, but I don't feel anything. I don't feel joyous that I've finished and I don't feel sad that I'm never going to be a high school student again. I'm not resentful of my experience either and I'm not whooping for excitement about college. I don't really feel anything, to be honest. Not even numb or in limbo, just nothing. I'm pretty much waiting to see what will happen in the future, in college, and beyond. 

Several weeks ago, I realized that who I was as a freshman is drastically different than who I am now. In ninth grade, at the age of fourteen, I was at the height of my puberty angst. My first day of high school was not the way I had seen in the movies. No bully pushed band members into lockers, no cheerleaders walked the hallways in groups. Stereotypical high school didn't seem to happen in a 3,500 student high school in which anonymity was pretty much guaranteed until you found a little group of people you could call friends. Yes, there were cliques, but it seemed that there were more ethnic-based than interest-based--the Asian hallway and the basketball courts packed with African Americans and Hispanics were more noticeable than the jocks, cheerleaders, goths, punks, or whatever stereotype people went by in middle school. Except the Tree People. But the Tree People are the Tree People* so let's not get into that. Though I do remember that the one thing that surprised me on the first day was walking home from school and seeing two students smoking. Amused, I told myself 'I'm in high school'. But so, freshman year was pretty painful personal life-wise and school-wise.  I was extremely self-conscious and had horrible self-esteem and I've never been a really great student so I didn't really know how to study when actual classes like Pre-AP Biology came around. Sophomore year came around and I did better in school, I learnt the beauty of all-nighters and caffeine tolerance, and I began being a bit more confident in myself. That year though was the pivotal point in the last four years because at the end of it, I had realized some very important things about myself and others. I had become definitely more open-minded than I had ever thought myself to be and I had entertained and accepted concepts that a lot of people in today's society cringe at. I still marvel at myself, that I could have thought through those ideas and basically turned my values upside down, that I could have been that malleable. 

Junior year I dipped down again into low self-worth but got myself back up quite highly again by the end of that year only to plunge down into depression several months later. That stayed for about most of this last year until I got tired of myself and dragged myself out of the hole I had made and plopped myself where I am now, which truth be told, I don't know really where that is. I should be pretty happy that I'm done and I should be looking forward to this summer and to college, but I'm a bit wary of what will happen, especially at the latter. At the moment, I'm reading this book called I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (great book, by the way, I recommend it) about this naive, innocent girl who enters college and has some very terrible experiences because of her desire to 'look cool', 'fit in', and have 'friends'. I'm not really worried about becoming like Charlotte Simmons and regretting the decisions I make, because I have already experienced most of what she did in high school. I know that a lot of seniors are going to college with the idea that they're going to experiment with things and have fun. I'm not going there to experiment, I'm going there to learn. What worries me most about college, besides the fear that I have absolutely no idea what I want to major in, is that I'll have to sift through masses of idiots before I can get to the people I want to connect with. Of course, that's what happens everywhere, but I like the intelligent people to be right at the front or at least easily spotted rather than hidden. But I'm sure I'm going to make a quantity of great friends, just like I did in high school, and it will all work out. 

Friend-wise, I know that I will keep in touch with the people I care about most. I'm not worried about that at all. I'm a firm believer in doing what you want to and not regretting anything. If you want to keep in touch, you'll keep in touch. If you don't, you don't. Most of my friends will be staying in my state and even though it's huge, I can still manage stalking them at random times. I know that I'll talk to them and see them more or less frequently throughout these next few years and that I won't allow myself to lose them. If they decide to not keep in touch with me, that's a different issue. Thank you though, all of you, for putting up with me because I know I'm not the most delightful person to cope with all the time. Thanks also to you IB people. I fuckin' love you all. 

Looking back on this post, it seems kind of depressing. In reality, I have actually loved my high school experience, the good and the bad. There was a considerable amount of bad with the good, but most of it was self-produced, and because of that, I hope I have learnt some valuable lessons, most of which have to do with having high self-esteem. I'm pretty happy with myself after all, and I think that's actually the point of high school--to get through four years of hormonal issues and inner and outer turmoil and survive. No, not just survive, but emerge with flying colours. I think I have done just that. I feel semi-prepared for college, mostly prepared in the social section, and kind of anxious about the school section. But to think of it, I've done IB so I should be more or less least the first year. I am confident with myself, with how I've turned out these last years, and I hope that the next four will be just as productive as these have been. 

On a last note, I'd like to remind everyone from my school how incredibly lucky you are. I don't know if you all realize this but you are truly lucky to have graduated and have done so well from Bellaire. In such a state as Texas, in such a country as the United States even, you don't find very many schools that are so liberal, have so much diversity, and are as tough. The last point may not seem like an advantage but I'm sure that surviving four years of AP and/or IB in a highly competitive environment will make you more ready for college and life afterward than students from most other schools will be. I'm truly grateful that I went through the Bellaire experience. 

Finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to Mr. Newland--the conversations we've had were extremely helpful. You let me rant, say inappropriate things, and stay in your room about every morning for two years and by the end, I think that if I had had a problem and I had to go to someone at Bellaire to talk about it, I would have gone to you. Thank you. <3 Don't worry, I'll be back. :P

I'd also like to thank Ms. Linsley for being so dedicated and helpful to me and the IB students. 

And almost lastly, I'd like to thank Ms. Quaite, Mr. Mazzoni, Ms. Burnside, Ms. Bagley, Mr. Schaaf, Mr. Peek, Ms. Alford, and Mr. Casteel for being incredible teachers. 

And now, truly lastly, I'd like to thank my parents who had to deal with me for these past four years through puberty and my school problems. Hopefully, college won't be so bad. 

And now...for summer. 

*a group that sat by the huge tree in the courtyard made up mostly of techies

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