Lessons Learned: A Teen’s Reflection on the High School Years [Teen Article]

Lessons LearnedGema is an 18-year old from Miami, FL. She loves reading and writing young adult fiction and claims to pass out in the presence of sterile wit.

I learned many lessons in high school. I’m not talking about the useless stuff like the Pythagorean Theorem or the Laws of Thermodynamics. The lessons I learned apply to all the walks of life. Some lessons were standard:

- Procrastination = bad!

There’s a reason why procrastination is considered an extension of Sloth (one of the seven deadly sins). Procrastination cripples your will to do work, which can harm your grades and perhaps your classmates if you’re doing a group project. After a disastrous research paper and many disappointing projects, I realized I had fallen into procrastination’s temptation.

– Bad grade ≠ Failure!

Once I had gotten over my procrastination phase, I fell deep into the other temptation: the proud feeling of perfection. I would obsess over every detail in a project. Every color on my posters had to be in perfect equilibrium. Every Lewis Dot structure on my Chemistry exam had to be a work of art. I was uncomfortable with B’s and allergic to C’s. It got to the point where I put aside the actual learning and concentrated on the presentation of my assignments. Needless to say, I learned the hard way that sometimes an F is necessary to bring a person back down to earth.

And then there were lessons that were the most painful to learn, and perhaps the most shameful to own up to. The theme of these lessons is identity. Unbeknownst to them, teens are always in search of their identity. Parents can’t provide it because they are biased, and all a social security number can offer is the overwhelming feeling of being just one more brick in the wall. After four long years in high school, I have a versatile skeleton of my identity which I’m sure will change its mold as I mature.

- Being Yourself

We’ve all heard it before. It’s in public service announcements, sappy teen movies and yearbook goodbye: “Be yourself”, “don’t ever change.” I learned that in order for someone to make a conscious decision to be “themselves” and not “change”, they need to know the person everyone is talking about. Who’s the person behind your scars, muscles and skin? Whose voice does yours belong to? Honestly, who are you?

- Finding from a Distance

On the journey to finding myself, I learned that distancing yourself from friends is not always a bad thing. Sure, there’s a decline in the usual gossip: the quarterback might suddenly take up ballet; the head cheerleader’s zit might give Obama a run for his money as leader of the free world. But being away from these things can prove to be beneficial. By stripping myself of their opinions and petty problems, I was able to settle into my own personality so that plus or minus my friends, I was still me.

- Same person ± your boyfriend

Which leads me to my next point. I’ve seen girls starve themselves in order to spread pheromones. Others that  fake interest in wrestling, cars and guitar for a chance to date a cute boy. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I have got to say that is pathetic. A boyfriend (or girlfriend, whatever floats your boat) is a nice addition. The company of a person you trust and are genuinely interested in can make the repetitious days in high school slightly easier to deal with. But altering your entire personality: the way you dress, the music you jam out in the shower, the jokes you laugh at; changing all of this for a person that might turn around and leave you the moment he/she realizes you’ve been faking it, is not even worth the words of utmost repulsion that other person will feel. An identity is a rubix cube and it’s a shame to take a hundred twists and turns when you’re so close to fully figuring it out. Through friends, I’ve learned that as “amazing” and “one of a kind” a person may seem, you can always live without them. Somehow, someway, the sun will still rise in the morning and the school bell will ring at the same time and life will continue even if that person is not holding your hand. The world is composed of over a billion people. There is someone for everyone out there. You just need to be true to yourself.

High school is a rollercoaster. The experiences I either went through or simply heard about will travel with me as I attend college and perhaps beyond that. I will do my best to not leave things until the last moment, to not concern  myself with presentation but with knowledge and to always stay true to my own personality, which will hopefully continue to evolve.

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    “High school is a rollercoaster”. totally agree! it’s the best rollercoaster i’ve ever ride