Highschool, Too, Will Pass
AN OPEN LETTER TO HIGH SCHOOL FIRST YEARS
This is it. Can you believe it? The concrete beneath your feet, the sun on your face, the uniform that's still a little too big on you, and the pencil case that's already got too much stuff in it. All the countless hours, sleepless nights, early mornings came to this—this year, this moment, right now.
Close your eyes. Picture the first day. Picture the way the social area smells, what it looks like. Know that everything is colour coordinated, that there is a one way system (it's a total pain but it can be quite useful sometimes) and you will soon find your way around. Imagine the classrooms, everything you are going to learn. See the hallway floors, shining, squeaking under your feet.
See yourself walking up to the front gate, up onto the mall, into your social area. Pull on your shoes, fix your tie, remember your blazer, your lunch money and come up with a better excuse for not writing that essay. Picture yourself laughing, making friends, the best teachers you'll ever know, everything you're about to find out, every bell, everyone around you wearing the same uniform.
The world sees you, you know. On days when you don’t feel beautiful. On mornings when you spend an hour in front of the bathroom mirror. You might think that your efforts are lost, that you’re just a face in a sea of faces, but you’re not. I promise you.
This is you. This is your time.
Listen to me. You don’t have to spend your mornings wondering if you are pretty, pressing your nose to the mirror and examining your spots and the bags under your eyes. We all have bags under our eyes. And wrinkles. And spots. And freckles. And scars. And these are all the things that make us beautiful, make us unique.
I know you won’t believe me now, but I’ll tell you anyways. You don’t need approval. You will never need approval. Be brave enough to make your own choices. Remember that those photos will all be on Facebook within half an hour of you leaving that party and reconsider your pose. Remember that no-one cares whether or not you're at the party, it's up to you. Your hair will always be too frizzy, or too straight, or too short, or too choppy. Your eyes will always be too round, or too blue, or too close together. Your body will always be too thick, or too fat, or too muscular, or too wide, or too tall, or too short, or too skinny. And even when you think you've become perfect, the world will turn away from you.
I've seen myself grow over the last year. Like you will, I've grown, both mentally and physically over the past six years. You too, will soon know what to do in every scenario, how to bluff your way out of doing homework, what staircase takes you where, when to stay back and ask for extra help, how to defend yourself, how to act.
You will work so hard. Through the stress, the drama, the studying, the tests —you will push through.
I am proud of you. I'm sorry if I don’t say that enough.
I am proud of the way you carry yourself. The way you pull yourself up after a fall. The way you believe in yourself and your classmates. The way you continue, day after day, class after class , to smile, to fight, to be the best you can be.
Always remember that you are more than a body walking the halls of a high school, more than the catty girls and more than the eyeing boys. I know it seems like the most important thing is to be liked and loved, to fit in and to be recognised. But do not compromise yourself, do not change yourself, because you will spend years trying to rediscover that person you once were.
This is your year.
I remember mine like it was yesterday, sitting in the social area, hearing the laughter, the cheers, the voices surrounding me, pushing me forward. I remember the way the sun felt on that particular day, the relief in my face when I realised, almost in slow-motion, that I'd passed a test I thought I'd failed. You'll get over the embarrassment of tripping up the stairs (I can tell you that for definite because I've fallen up or down every single one), and even if you fall onto the stage at prizegiving and hit the guest speaker with your flyaway shoe like I did, I promise you it'll be okay. You've got to laugh those things off.
These days will go fast, you know. Though it sometimes feels like you've been here your whole life, and that you will be in school forever, this is it. It isn't bad, it’s beautiful. The memories, the games, the pain, the tears, the exhaust, the fights, the friendships—they’re all beautiful.
Promise me one thing: that you will treasure these years.
The words you hear thrown around the halls, the hate and gossip that spills and seeps into your soul will dissipate. You will look back one day and laugh at the girl who treated you so poorly because she taught you how to stand up for yourself. You will laugh at the boy who didn’t give you the time of day, because I promise you he regrets it now. You will laugh at the words of your friends, of your parents, of those who didn’t understand. You will see it clearly—it all led you to where you are right now. It will get better. The pain, the confusion, the way the world feels like it’s crushing you from all sides as you plan for this unknown future that seems like an upside-down, directionless map. It will get better.
So promise me that when you walk through these halls, you will remember how they look right now, the primary colours, the posters, even the damp on the roof and litter on the floor. That when you step onto that stage, you will look at the lights, memorise the way they glow, making shadows on the faces of the crowd that is clapping for you, believing in you.
Promise me that you will take a second and remind yourself that these are the best days of your life.
My days are nearly done now. I have learnt, I have practised, I have pushed myself beyond my limits, I have succeeded, and I have failed. I gave everything I had to exams and people that could not be mine forever, but I don’t regret a single second.
I hope you remember me, when you get ready for that first day. When you put on that uniform, when you walk through those hallways, when you nod at yourself in the mirror.
Go with confidence. Go with heart. And don’t ever forget that I am there in spirit, loving and believing in you, always.