As I lay here on my bed this charming Tuesday night, my mind wonders to my upcoming graduation. Rather than go off on my after high school plans or tell you of my dreams of getting away like I always do, I’d prefer to talk of what that spacious brick school with over four thousand students, hundreds of teachers, and three years of my life there has taught me.
Some people say high school is the pinnacle of a person’s life. When I hear that I giggle inside, thinking how much of a pathetic life ahead of us everyone then has. But, I can understand what people mean when they say that. High school is a time in your life mostly free from the burden of adulthood, and a time when you can experiment and jump from one thing to the next.
There are footballs games, pep fests, spirit weeks, and let’s not forget the most important of them all… prom. But, even with those things I have never been the kind of person to love high school, in fact I dreaded it so much that I’m graduating a year early just to get out. But, along with the dread came a lot of memories and lessons that taught me about life, and even about myself.
High school taught me to let loose, have some fun, and be silly. Like all humans, we care what people think, as much as we try to deny it it will always matter to a certain degree.
Starting my first day of high school being a freshman, I looked around me and saw that I was nothing like everybody else. I’ve always been a little awkward and the things that I believe, value, and find interesting are not what most teenagers would agree with. So I began high school being an outsider, and to an extent I feel that everyone experiences that feeling.
As for me, once I saw I was never going to be like everyone one else I realized that in 10 years from now, no one is going to care what I wore to school that day or if I had done something weird. After I figured that out, I let go and allowed myself to be fun and make memories.
I’m weird, ask anyone that knows me, but now I’m not afraid to show it. And from being my odd self I’ve made more friends than when I was the self-conscious freshman girl who tried to fit it. Now, I’ve had the time of my life embarrassing myself because by doing that, I’ve made memories.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade those weird looks for anything, because when I belt out songs in the lunch line to people I do not know, or when I stand up and perform the Napoleon Dynamite dance in front of my class just because I can, that is what makes me smile when I remember this high school, not the memories of fitting in.
Also high school taught me what really is important… Walking around Minnetonka High School is like walking into a designer store. There is money everywhere I turn, and I’m sure the cute leather boots that are now in style cost more than the price of filling up my car for the next year! Everything is centered on looks and things, it’s hard not to get caught up in it, and for a while I tried to keep up.
I don’t have much money and nether does my family, but I saved up for months just to have one pair of Seven jeans. Once I finally had enough to buy them, two weeks later I was on to the next want.. a Juicy Couture sweatshirt. You can see the cycle… but it didn’t last long for me thank goodness.
At the start of the school year I began volunteering at Golden Eagles (tutoring center for Native American children in South Minneapolis.) Upon arriving I met some of the sweetest children I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. They have no money, they live on food stamps and most do not even know who their parents are, but they were some of the happiest people I have ever met. And these little kids no older than 9 years old have taught me more about life and what is important than all the days focused on material things ever could.
Those jeans are no longer important, nor are the little things we all get caught up with in high school. I may not have the those nice leather boots, and often I may look like a complete slob when you see me in the hallways, but what I do have is a perspective that none of that is important, I have an understanding that there is more to life then what you have.
And to not babble on forever on what I have learned, I will say one last thing Tonka High has taught me and that comes from a quote on the bathroom stalls.. “Be kind to everyone, because you do not know the battles they face.” Who would have known the bathroom would have such words of wisdom written on it in Sharpe?!
This statement could not be more true, it’s so easy to think everyone’s life around you is easy while you feel yours is impossible. But after hanging out and talking with every person I have had the chance to meet I have learned, everyone has their own battles. No one has a charmed perfect life even if they drive a Mercedes and always look put together.
I have coined the name “Oprah” since 8th grade for being a listener and a therapist to many and I am so glad I have done so, because listening to people and their stories made me realize that everyone has good in them, everyone has a past, and everyone has a story. So just because you see people with their fancy attire and pricey cars does not mean they have it all, so be kind. Try to love everyone. I know this sounds cliché and dumb and a lot easier said than done, but I can tell you from experience that being nice to everyone you meet will help you see the good in others. I have made friends with the most unexpected people, and some of them have turned out to be my best friends. If I were to have judged them and not given them a chance I would have missed out on some of the most fulfilling and life changing friendships.
So, High school is coming to an end, and yes I had a rough time with it, but I do not regret a day of it. The experiences in high school have made me who I am, because it taught me to have fun, get to know people, find a passion for something, and to stand out. Ending this post is hard because there is just too much more I have to say, but in closing, I have some of the fondest memories due to Minnetonka High School and I must say how thankful I am for that! I will never forget the people I have met and grown to love!