High School Expectations Vs Reality

“Thank you for your order,” my computer screen read as it took me a minute to register what I had done. As I had finally placed my graduation cap and gown order, it seemed that high school flew by me instantaneously. Getting ready to leave high school behind, it seems like only yesterday that I was a geeky, anxious freshman trying to find my way through the never-ending halls. When I reflect on my time in high school, I realize it was not at all what I had anticipated. There was no plot, no punchline, and it was nowhere near as entertaining as it was advertised in shows or movies. Would I wish that it had happened differently, though? Not in the slightest.

Disney and Nickelodeon instilled the image of high school as a dramatic battleground where everyone gets backstabbed and falls in love. I was conditioned to expect a specific order for crowds and how they should behave (for example, geeks, jocks, and cheerleaders). With just about every show and movie taking place in a high school, I had been looking forward to the experience virtually all my life. 

My freshman to junior year was such a letdown for me, as my expectations for the eventful nature of high school were nothing more than a place to learn and keep to myself and my friend group. It was so surprising that there were no surprises. I experienced so much boredom because every day was the same routine; wake up, work, eat lunch, do more work, then go home. Beyond that, friend groups were never labeled and were not exclusive to one another. I befriended anybody I “clicked with’, rather than whoever looked or acted similar to me, and so did everyone else.Ultimately, there was no organization, storyline, and plot. Sadly, it was just a merry go round of confusing repetition.

Reflecting on my high school experience, I recognize it was a lesson in managing expectations. While it did not live up to the standards I had created in my mind, it was no disappointment. Just because something does not match our expectations does not mean that it is not valuable or worth experiencing. High school was a crucial part of my growth as a person, and it provided me with vital life lessons that I will carry with me for years to come. Most prominently, high school taught me the importance of being true to myself because surrendering my sense of worth to impress others leads to an uncomfortable and phony life. My first years were spent attempting to impress others to avoid loneliness and keep myself occupied. The COVID-19 pandemic provided me with an adequate opportunity to reflect on how I should have approached independence. Clinging to others is even more degrading than being alone. High school taught me independence.

In conclusion, high school may not have been what it seemed, but that does not diminish its significance. While the media may portray high school as a new, carefree experience, the reality is no movie. High school can be challenging, tedious, and stressful but can also be a time of significant growth and development. It is essential to manage our expectations and understand that just because something does not match our preconceived notions does not mean it is not worth experiencing. High school taught me that life is not always what we expect it to be, but that does not mean it is any less valuable.