Although it sometimes can feel like it lasts forever, the entirety of a student’s high school career typically boils down to a mere four years. Keeping in mind the time taken off for holidays, vacations, and the glorious pot of gold at the end of the rainbow known as summer, these four years are even less lengthy than they appear.
High school is not solely exaggerated in length, either. Often times students tend to overestimate the importance of these four years as well. We tend to blow every lousy grade, social mishap, and romantic misfortune epically out of proportion. We believe that these blunders and setbacks are the end of the world, surely having the potential to haunt us for the rest of our miserable lives. The fact of the matter is, however, that high school is simply not that significant.
Before you go and throw all of your textbooks out of the window, pledging to spend the rest of high school goofing off and counting down the days until your freedom, let me clarify: high school is not just one prolonged waste of time. The way you perform academically, the connections you make, and the experiences you withstand all help prepare you for your future. They can determine what opportunities you encounter, the person you become, and how you perceive the world.
With this being said, there are many aspects of high school that, despite seeming so critical at the time, are ultimately proven irrelevant. Social hierarchies, failed tests, breakups, blemishes - none of these things really matter in the end.
Five, ten, twenty years down the line, it will not matter whether you were at the top of the social pyramid or slumming it as a social outcast. No one will remember the time freshmen year when you slipped and called your Spanish teacher ‘mom’ or when you shouted out an answer in biology that was very obviously incorrect.
You will not still be pining over your sophomore year sweetheart, picking petals off of flowers and wondering what went wrong. The failing grade you received on that calculus test will not ruin your chances at the future you have dreamt of, condemning you to a life of flipping burgers at the local fast food joint to make ends meet.
Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of high school is this ephemeral nature. Too often we get caught up in labels, allowing ourselves to be placed in a box and accepting it as who we are. When high school ends, the walls of these boxes are easily crumpled.
If you were not the best student in high school, you can become the type of person who studies every night and is at the top of the class. If you were the type of person who stayed quiet and kept to themselves, you can transform into a social butterfly, outspoken and the life of every party.
After high school is over, there is no rule that says that one must continue to fulfill the expectations of those around you. You can be whatever person you want to be, one that the walls of your high school hallways have never seen. Or, if you happen to like the person you were during high school, that is perfectly okay too. The point is, high school does not define who you are.
High school can be amazing. There are so many great opportunities waiting for you from the moment that you first step through those front doors until the moment you cross that bridge at graduation. I would encourage everyone to seize these opportunities before it is too late, because those four years have a tendency to feel more like ten seconds in retrospect.
For those students whose high school experience has not been as remarkable, whether you’re a senior preparing to leave the nest once and for all or an underclassmen just trying not to fall out of the tree, remember one thing: this is not it. High school is not the be-all-end-all. You have a whole entire world out there, a new beginning waiting to be grasped and taken advantage of. So, take it.