“I always knew after all these years there’d be laughter, there’d be tears, but I never knew I’d walk away with so much joy but so much pain. “
Report cards, math test, science projects, english papers, group work, and embarrassing P.E. moments. We learned all these subjects, and participated in all of these activities during our high school careers. But lets be real, high school teaches us so much more than just how some crazy guy decided to put letters in math, high school teaches us about life, and the people that make it up. At least I know it sure did for me.
Graduation is in less than a month, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting over the past four years and how they have shaped me. As I have been reflecting, I’ve realized the most important thing I learned wasn’t the birth place of Shakespeare. Rather, the more important lessons I learned were the ones that taught me about the deeper aspects of life: that life wasn’t always fair, but it was always good, life is unpredictable and sometimes very scary, but you can’t live in fear, friends will turn their backs on you, but don’t let that keep you bitter and hard hearted, and lastly, high school taught me that I was a lot stronger than I ever believed I could be.
I didn’t learn these things because everything went the way I planned, and nothing bad ever happened to me. I learned these lessons in my darkest hours. Walking into high school my freshman year, I don’t think my fourteen year old self could imagine all that the next four years would hold. I think I was naive to many of the heartaches I would face, and also unaware of the blessing in disguise that I would find through these times. I had these ideas in my head of what high school would be like. I always knew I would have such a feeling of joy and pride when I finally walked across the stage, but I had no idea of the things that would happen to get me to that point of accomplishment.
Going into high school I had a large circle of like-minded friends. For the most, part this group seemed to remain constant through freshman year. However, people move away, peer pressure hits, people change, and people turn their backs on you. I learned that friendship wasn’t always a forever thing, sometimes it was a very short lived thing. In high school, girls don’t need a reason to quite being your friend, and you don’t have to do them any harm for them to treat you wrong. For awhile, this made me pretty bitter. I became so hurt by what people had done to me, and how they treated me, that I decided it was better to just lock people out of my life. I didn’t let people get close because I didn’t want to be hurt again. At that point, I didn’t think the risk was worth what I might gain. I soon learned I was wrong. As hard as forgiveness was, I learned it was harder to stay bitter. I had to forgive and let people into my life. My circumstance never seemed to change, but when I decided to forgive, I felt joy again. I was able to enjoy time with people without anticipating their betrayal. I learned to enjoy people for who they were, not who I wanted them to be, who I thought they should be, or even who they used to be.
Junior year my school lost three classmates. This was a devastating event that hit like some kind of nightmare. I don’t think I actually came to terms with the reality of this until a year after it happened. I have lost relatives, close relatives even. But somehow this was completely different. It was unexpected, it wasn’t fair, and it didn’t make since. Our classmate were suppose to be walking across the stage with us in June to receive their diploma, but God had a different plan. One that still doesn’t make since. I can’t speak for all my classmates, but I know God taught me a lot about life through that time. Its one of those things that you either fall apart in confusion, or you just let go and let God. I wanted hope and healing for my entire school; their were so many devastated people who had no hope in God to fall back on, and that broke my heart. But instead of becoming mad at God I decided to trust he had a plan, and open myself up to be used however he willed. I didn’t know why he chose to let this happen, but I learned God is so much bigger than me, my circumstance, or even my school. His glory would be reveled in this sometime, somewhere, someway.
High school also taught me a lot about myself. I have always been labeled “the shy girl”. I’ve realized that I don’t have to be that person, I can be whoever I wanna be. When I first started high school, the thought of public speaking terrified me. Since then, I have presented countless presentations. Through the terror of facing my fear, I learned I am more than capable of public speaking. I actually look forward to it now. Yes, I still get terrified when I have to, but its something I know I can do, so I push through the fear. Afterwards, comes such a great since of accomplishment. Along with this, I have gained so much confidence in who I am. I have faced insecurity off an on during my life. Not insecurity about my appearance, but about who I am as a person. I put way too much stock into weather or not other people like or approve of me. I have learned insecurity is just a mask of fear that I hide behind, and it isn’t necessary.
High school was nothing like I imagined. The things about the high school experience that I thought would mean so much to me, came and passed without me acknowledging them. It was not as easy as I thought it would be, because there were so many more problems than my algebra problems, (but those were hard too…). And honestly, at times, all I wanted was for high school to be over. I was ready to surrender it all and give up on any of it being good. Now that I’ve made it to the other side, I am so glad I didn’t give up on high school, that I decided it could be a great thing, even though it wasn’t like I expected. I am thankful for the heartaches, without those I wouldn’t have learned many of the things that taught me to enjoy life the way it is. I am so thankful that no matter what my circumstance, God always provided what I needed. Whether that be, support, courage, or a friend, He never left me hanging. I can honestly say, I wouldn’t rewrite any of it given the chance.
I am ready to walk across that stage in June, and because of what I have lived in high school, I know I am ready for whatever my next chapter holds.