That first day is such a blur (and it happened only a few days ago). A complete blank has been folded over those overwhelming 7 hours. The underlying reasoning behind this curtain drawn experience, is less of my conscious actually failing to remember and more of my conscious not wanting to remember. Flashbacks of sweaty palms. A racing heart. Shaking legs and a fidgety mind. An evident outsider to the surrounding jungle: it was day one of my freshmen year.
Now, of course, a complete veteran to the scene, since I am completing week three. Never could I have pictured what I would collect over my first 10 days as a high schooler. I have come to understand that us newbies aren’t being eyed by the upperclassmen as the movies may reveal. They are all too caught up in their own destiny, to worry about ours. Lost in the enthralling “real world” coming their way. Walking into my pea-sized school it felt like a swarm of chaos. With all eyes turning to the lost 9th graders, who were oblivious to the ride they were about to enter onto.
Every hint of laughter in the air, was thought to be directed straight at me. Every smile, a symbolic representation of the tireless eyes which no other student possessed (just one of the many obvious indicators which highlighted our freshmen status). And all in the span of about five seconds I remembered each of my middle school teachers repeating day in and day out “Appreciate 8th grade Lily!” And as a freshmen, I now realize… I should have.
Ninth grade is about paving your road. It is about recognizing your ultimate drive. Acknowledging the mistakes, and celebrating the triumphs. Revolving around the core idea of embracing your flaws not denouncing them, freshmen year is a time filled with great lessons of self-discovery. But, as any high schooler will tell you, entering into those overwhelming hallways it most definitely does not feel that way! I have never been one to be defined as “awkward.” I was never afraid to use my big girl voice and speak. Never afraid to take a leap! To put the matter lightly I felt different on that first day. The braces, the pimples, the pubescent body, the deer in the head light eyes; I was officially a teenager. I never thought I would emote such a wordless feeling, but it was as if someone had slapped a sign on my back that stated “This girl is a high school loser and always will be!”
It took a few nights of confusion. A few minutes of tears. A few hours of pep talks, to open my eyes to the reality at hand. As a freshmen it feels, that the way we are, is the way we will forevermore be. I would have this wire on my teeth as a bride. I would have this disproportional body as a graduate student. I would feel this directionless as I stood in my cap and gown as a senior. Nothing was going to change. The Lily in my ninth grade portrait was the same woman I would be seeing in the mirror 20 years from now (a very stressful epiphany). I still would have no idea, of who it is I wish to become. It was at that moment, by which I realized we are never frozen in time (although I’m sure anyone over the age of 25 wishes this were the case). Never will we ever be set in stone. The journey’s we take. The lessons we learn, every moment we live. That is what allows us to grow up. That is what gives us the strength to move on! This is what provides us the courage, to take a step past your ninth grade lost soul.
Although during these next few months, you may see your reflection, and think “I have no idea what I’m doing here.” Or look to find the new found dweeb within you. The truth actually is that, these moments are the most fulfilling. These are the vital 10 months when you will begin to learn about the person you are. About the strength you possess. This is the mere foundation of who you will grow to be. We all have those ‘awkward’ years. Every single adult you see, has taken that embarrassing class portrait. Every adult, has bumped into those seniors in the hallway, just as they were about to make out (OK fine, maybe that was just me). It is imperative for us infantile high schoolers, to draw through these uncomfortable times. To embrace the unplanned moments, in order to understand times which are better. Experiences which are necessary to appreciate.
Those celebrities you witness on TV on the daily, did not wake up as a 14-year-olds and look at their reflection to say “God, I love myself.” These high school years are weird. These high school days are awkward. It is when you open your eyes, to your classmates around you. Look up to see your best friend. That you begin to understand that each and everyone of us, are in the exact same boat. And as we grow, and as we change, we will only just begin to realize that those “end of the world” days in high school, are probably the best ones to live in the real world.
The evidence that there is hope for us all. Nerd Alert: Can you say “celebrity picture day”?
Leighton Meester was no real-life Blair Waldworf in her day!
Madonna had a last name back then. I think.
A long haired Zac Efron had a look going for him. That’s for sure!
I’m sure this Katy Perry had some B.I.G. “teenage dreams” as a high schooler.