Only two years have passed and I can’t help but notice how much I have grown since high school. In the moment, every little thing feels like it has the capacity to end the world. Every rumor, every fight, every broken heart has the power to leave you questioning yourself for what feels like an entirety.
I look back and laugh at the boy I spent months in despair over. I laugh at the fact I felt the need to wear makeup every single day and straighten my already straight hair. I laugh at the moments I would leave class just to tell my friends the latest gossip because for some reason, Mary’s spray tan was way more important than geometry.
That’s not to say high school was a walk in the park. The emotions are real and the experiences are irreplaceable. There will be some friends who will stand by your side for the rest of your life and some that won’t make it past graduation day and that is okay. The moment I left high school behind, it didn’t matter anymore what Katie wore last Wednesday or what Veronica said in the locker room after gym class. I wish I knew that earlier, and I’d be free from the overwhelming pressures that followed me through high school.
I loved sports. I played soccer for thirteen years, I was a cheerleader, and I even, for some reason, ran track even though I hate to run. I would do anything to lace up my cleats and take the field again or grab my pompoms and spirit finger my way onto the basketball court one last time. The feeling of belonging to team was so rewarding yet so difficult to mimic after graduation.
I didn’t believe anyone when they told me to enjoy it while it lasted. During high school, it felt like it would never end but I wish I took the time to embrace each moment instead of banking on having another. Now already two years through college, I try my best to understand that this isn’t forever either, as much as I want it to be.
I wish I knew it was okay to stay home on a Friday night. I don’t look back and think about that one party I didn’t go to that no one remembers anyways. I wish I knew that sneaking out and getting in a car with someone who was drinking didn’t make me cool, it made me stupid.
I felt the need to fit in. I had a serious fear of missing out. Although I wish I focused more on enjoying each and every moment, it would have been okay to listen to mom once in a while and just stay home. Avoiding the drinking scene and ignoring the pressures wouldn’t have helped me fit in, but it certainly would’ve made me feel smarter. In my life, two men most deserving of a long and happy life have lost their lives to the feeling of invincibility and the ignorance of drinking and driving. The lesson to learn was very clear the first time, and even more painful the second.
The paralyzing fear of not fitting in was something I was never able to overcome until I graduated. I still feel that sometimes, but it doesn’t necessarily drag me down like it used to. Growing out of the feeling that in order to be loved, I need to be accepted by people who really never mattered is an incredibly powerful feeling. I’ve learned not to care as much.
I wish I knew that no one compared me to anyone except for me. I was beautiful long before any lusty teenage boy told me so and I was still beautiful when that same lusty teenage boy told me I was not. After long nights crying in my tiny twin bed and days where I didn’t want to get out of it because I felt as though I wasn’t worthy, I was able to learn that no one deserved to hold that type of power over me. I had to stop relying so heavily on the opinion of others while recognizing that not everyone is going to like me and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I felt the need to wear makeup every day not for the compliments from those lusty teenage boys but instead for the judgmental girls who walked the halls with me. They all wore makeup everyday so I guess I had to, too. The internal pressure lessened my senior year when I realized I wouldn’t have to see over half these people again so I really shouldn’t care. Finding the strength not to care is tough, but one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever learned.
Above all, I’m still learning and growing. Looking back at the little things I stressed over, I realize those were the moments that helped me gain the strength not to care about the opinions of others and focus my concerns on making myself proud. I know it’s okay to stay home once in a while and binge watch The Office when I’m homesick and that no one cares if I don’t wear makeup to class. I let go of the constant pressure to be something and I am not attempting to live up to other people’s expectations for myself. It’s freeing knowing the only person I need to impress is myself. It’s amazing how much can change in such a short amount of time and I plan to embrace each moment of my crazy college career and all that will come after.
I sit here writing in my tiny, overpriced college apartment, overly excited and terrified of what the future will be, who I will become, and where my career will take me. These fears are confirmed through constant set backs and daily reminders from strangers that I don’t have what it takes to make it in the industry. Concurrently, my passion to write and the excitement I feel when I make myself proud silence the hate from others and doubts that find their way to circle through my mind.
I grew up in a conservative neighborhood with very few strong, female leaders to base myself off of outside my family. A small town comes with an even smaller higher school, a graduating class of just sixty people. Knowing the middle name of every person you graduated with seems great in theory, but it has its downfalls. When you graduate high school with the same exact people you met the first day of kindergarten, it’s incredibly difficult to explore yourself and opportunities without being judged. It’s challenging to find the people who want to see you stretch and succeed and not the ones just looking for something to talk about.
Coming from the small town of Scranton, life can be boring and slightly confusing with little to no exposure to the world outside of the Electric City. It may be fun sharing the same roots as Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute, but it was time for me to leave Dunder Mifflin behind and find something more for myself in the City of Brotherly Love which brings me to this chapter of my life.
Moving to Philadelphia to further my education was the best decision I could have made. It allowed me to chose people to surround me who would push me towards my dreams and celebrate my victories. I quickly realized the people I chose to be around made an incredible impact on the person I want to become because I have been able exceed my own expectations. I never imagined the possibilities I would create for myself, including the opportunity to intern in New York City.
I dream of becoming a writer in any form, whether that be through a journalistic approach or even becoming a published author. I am happiest when I allow myself to ignore the sometimes overwhelming fear of disapproval and just let the words flow freely. This blog is a stepping point on my journey and I hope to encourage girls of all ages to follow whatever far-reaching dreams they may have by doing just that for myself.
As I look back at all the days I spent sitting in my high school desk questioning who I was meant to be, I pray that no other girl has the same fears and self doubts I had at such a young age. I wish I understood that I could have done anything that I put my mind to and that no one had the power to tell me otherwise.
I feared I would never have any clue what I wanted to do with my life when the time came. Even though I still don’t truly know how the rest of my life will unfold, I know the direction I want to take it in. I feared I wouldn’t find friends in college who didn’t think I was weird or annoying and accepted me for who I was. I’ve managed to find a group of friends who don’t give a damn who I am or who I was. I’ve met the girls who will stand as my bridesmaids. I feared I was never meant to go to college, that I didn’t have what it takes. As I write this, I am starting my junior year and wishing it would never end.
I’ve vowed to myself that I will become whatever I dream to be and pray that someday, every girl sitting at her desk never doubts who she is. To all the girls sitting in their desks right now wondering who they will turn out to be, continue to wonder but don’t ever fear. You will find who you are meant to be with time and without even truly realizing it and that is the moment you are working towards.