Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Erin and certain people get to me

Erin Kehoe                                                                                                                           Dr. McCarterH. Brit. Lit.23 January, 2018From the very first day of my freshman year in High School,  I would always hear the phrase “Just be yourself,” repeated into my ear countless number of times from countless different directions, or so it seemed at the time. I know now that it is very easy to say that from the outside looking in, but not so much the other way around, when you are scared, unsure, and naive young freshman who is just wanting to “fit in.”  Sure, some people had the best of intentions for me and didn’t want to see me make mistakes or repeat their own bad decisions when they were once in my shoes. Others were simply only out for themselves and often that was done at the expense of others and unfortunately, that “expense” included me.  At times during my freshman year, when I thought I was “Just being myself” – I was really just desperately trying to “fit in” and be one of the popular and cool kids, but as I realized, I was really just compromising who I was, by trying to be someone who I was not! Needless to say, there were times when this caused me great emotional pain and confused sorrow. Despite that, at times I would push those  issues farther and farther down inside to  a place that soon became just a  darkened corner of empty high school hallways, where I’d cry myself dry on far too many occasions. To this day, I hold this period in my Freshman year as my most detrimental and yet, my most instrumental part of what would become an incredible and very successful high school experience. At the time, I thought minute moments would matter for the rest of my life, but suddenly they didn’t anymore. I was left wondering how I could let “high school” and certain people get to me the way it did. The theory I hold to be true is the belief that some people are perhaps more well-equipped and better prepared to handle high school than others. They already know how to blend in, how to be well-liked, and even how to stand out without being judged or ridiculed by their peers During my freshman year, I found myself making too many wrong decisions, but the irony is that I knew fully well I was making those wrong decisions, but convincing myself otherwise and not caring enough about anything to stop making them. My grades, always a source of personal pride, were slipping tremendously; I was hanging with the wrong crowd, and I started to slowly lose myself.  The “in crowd” seemed to be having a fabulous time. They never welcomed me to be apart of their “clique”. Didn’t I deserve the same type of attention that I had somehow put so high on a pedestal of importance in my mind.  How popular I was and how much attention I received became the dysfunctional “benchmark” by which I measured myself. Getting “likes” and approval on social media became more important than getting a receiving grade on a test. If I didn’t obtain those then something must of been wrong with me! As I began to mature, I  finally started to realize: There was nothing wrong with me. The only thing that was wrong was my frame of mind. I desired for the fun they were having, but I knew that I would have to continue to fake it to seemingly be a part of the group, and I wasn’t willing to do that anymore. To add, I was not very good at it. I wanted them to want me, but I began to understand that forcing or inserting myself into their activities, many of which were inappropriate, wouldn’t accomplish that. Due to this , I became depressed for some time, letting it devour a huge chunk of my freshman year. Imagine living and convincing yourself that everything you’re doing is pointless. Imagine not wanting to talk to anyone, but then feeling excruciatingly alone when you don’t. It was a tremendous burden to carry, even though it was self-inflicted.However, there was a silver lining to this difficult experience, it was an amazing lesson learned. It forced me to really look and learn about myself, my life, how to let things go and how to love. That experience helped me to get to know myself so much better. To get to know the substance of who I truly am. And most importantly, it taught me how to forgive myself for the mistakes I made. In closing, I will say that one of the most significant lessons that I learned from my experience freshman year, was the importance of self-reliance, self-worth and perseverance. I have now come to understand that high school was a unique time to explore who you really are and who you want to be. Many years from now, people will not remember who was in the “popular” crowd, but they will remember how you treated them, how you treated yourself, and whom your character was. I always remind myself if any part of my past was altered, I would not be the strong, confident and caring young woman that I am today. Never be ashamed of your past, every single thing you have been through in your life, has shaped you into who you are today. “To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”Hannah Kent


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