As a 2015 high school grad, I’ve had the opportunity to see school and socializing through a completely new, more mature perspective. I see the spark of new found freedom, hope, and anticipation in 2016 grads that I had a year before.
People find true friends in higher education because they already have something in common. I see so many people choose schools that fit their personality. Of course, we see the incredibly hard working honor students attend schools like the Ivy Leagues, Berkeley, and UCLA. Many of us aren’t surprised when the outgoing, laid back, (and perhaps overly social) students attend UC Santa Barbara. But even students of schools that are not as ubiquitous exemplify the personality of the university or college. Whether it’s the quality of the education, the typical climate of the area, or the concentration of certain majors, there is always a common reason student choose that school. Almost anywhere you go, you’re bound to get a good education, so the most important thing is to find a school that resonates with you.
A year has taught me that I will find what I’ve been looking for: a group of friends where I fit like a glove, new social and political experiences, freedom to choose my schedule, and the ability to sign papers without a parent’s signature. But along with the positive adventures comes obstacles.
As soon as high school ended, my routine changed. My mom started working, I went to work after attending school in the morning, and I completely isolated myself from high school peers that did not mean as much to me. I realized that I had minor depression. Sometimes I would feel sad, and the only reason I could think of was that my environment changed. I noticed the first signs of depression, including serious thoughts of suicide, during my most stressful year of high school, junior year.
I wish I took care of it sooner because it ended up getting worse as the stress of getting good grades and balancing social and school life added up in college. I was so exhausted that when I visited my family in Las Vegas for Christmas, I was sleeping while the rest of my family was having a party downstairs. I had never slept during the socializing hours of family parties, with the exception of one or two parties at my house.
Leading up to and after Christmas, I was faced with many other stresses, including various struggles with my body image (triggered by my family’s nonstop comments on my body), the paralyzing fear of driving (and constant lectures of how “it’s going to be okay, you won’t kill anybody” from everyone, including my boyfriend), the persistent efforts of family to suppress my rebellious public statements, and the suffocating schedule of the history class I took during the entire month of January (I had to read 2 chapters every 4 days, if I remember correctly). Of course, I don’t remember everything that happened because the stress, anxiety, and depression has led to a demise in my memory and concentration.
The point I’m trying to make is that life after high school can be a huge roller coaster of euphoric experiences and near-death experiences (most likely from my own doing). It’s hella tough and it can feel so debilitating at times, but you’re not alone. You may end up needing a therapist during your first year out of the traditional school schedule you’ve followed for 13 years, or you will rise to the top in some godlike balance of school, sleep, and social life.
I had problems haunting me in high school that I’m struggling to solve now.
But as tough as things have been, not once have I looked back and wished I could be in high school again. And I’ll take the tortures of young adulthood over the oppression of high school teenage years any day.