An open letter to the underclassmen:
Have you ever read the novel or seen the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower? If not, it is about a young freshman named Charlie, who did not have a place at school nor any friends. He starts off his freshman year with a heavy heart, and no goals for his life and then finds a group of friends that help him feel included and push through the struggles that life throws at him especially through his great bought of depression; however, his one support system, his friends, are all seniors and will be graduating. This story is not for the light-hearted, but those who are open to the dark truth in the world. The thing is Charlie is not the most mentally heathy of teenagers, he has been surrounded by depression and has been struggling through depression, anxiety, and PTSD for most of his life. His family tries their hardest to help and he knows this but doesn’t know how to communicate with them without feeling as if he is a burden.
My freshman year I could relate to him on some levels. I did not have a place in a friend group with my fellow freshmen. I was continuously excluded and was always afraid of feeling as if I were a burden. My main friends had been upperclassmen who were going to leave at the end of the year. I learned to trust those friends and use them as a support system and then they were gone. They graduated and I have yet to hear from those individuals since they graduated. Yes, it does sadden me that those friends that I once held close had left me, leaving me to wonder if I ever meant much as much to them as they had to me four years ago but, I now know that everyone is continuously growing and changing. In my freshman classes, I did not really have anyone to talk to, which basically sucked for me because I did not have anyone that I trusted or felt comfortable around for group assignments. Looking back upon that year, I now know that if I had opened up even a little bit more and not cared as much, maybe I would have made out better than I did.
I ended up transferring after that year and the first class that I had at my new school was once again full of upperclassmen. That small class filled with upperclassmen had become a family, and I will forever be thankful for the one class that I looked forward to every day for two years. When my classmates had graduated at the end of my junior year, the last few weeks had been an experience. It was weird going to class or not seeing my senior friends in the hall.
This year it was my turn to be that senior who was friends with the underclassmen. My friends who are underclassmen make me feel more included and wanted than the friend group who basically adopted me into their when I transferred schools. These underclassmen have just accepted me for who I am and I feel like they appreciate me.
The weird thing about going through life with anxiety and depression is feeling like you are alone. We fail to realize that there are so many other people going through their own lives and that you should be open to everyone as if they are going through their own issues. Talk to someone that you do not know. Talk to the “werido” that everyone bullies. Stand up for someone else, if you know them or not. We live in a society of hatred and unjustness. This atmosphere needs to change. This school may have a much more accepting aura than my old high school, but, this is due to the attitudes of the student body. You cannot expect to feel wanted and included if you do not reach out to someone else. Trust me. I know how hard it can be. Do not worry. Do not let your anxieties hold you back.
I have some more advice for you. If someone opens up to you, do not spread their secrets. That’s just not cool. No one likes a snake.
These four years are the beginning of a time in your life where you start to discover who you truly are and who you truly want to be. If your middle school friends are toxic and make you feel like dirt (as mine did), do not try to stick with them. Do not accept the love you think you deserve, surround yourself and let yourself accept the love of supportive and positive people in your life. Your core group of friends may be in school or outside of school. You may have different core friends each year at high school, do not feel pressured to stick with those who put you down. Do not fall for the lies that your anxiety tells you. You will find a place. You will become who you want to be, or at least start to become who you want to be.
I have not been the most sentimental senior this year. I am not participating in the senior walk (because I did not go to elementary school in this district) nor will be attending post grad. My advice to you is to be involved but also know yourself. If you do not feel comfortable or just need some alone time, it’s okay to leave that social event early but don’t let your anxiety bring you down. Do not feel pressured to have that high school relationship or that perfect prom dress that costs hundreds of dollars. The memories and people that you spend your time with are priceless and will make your years at your high school worth it.