By Ingrid Chang
These may be obvious to you. Chances are, you are in or have already been through high school and these sound like no-brainers. Or you may completely disagree; everybody’s experience is different. But the one thing that most people can probably agree on is that high school is a weird bubble of altered reality, and you will never live through anything like it again. Here’s what I learned from it.
Your teachers are not out to get you. You will encounter at least one teacher in high school whose class you just do terribly in, regardless of how hard you try. The teacher will drill you and give quizzes every day and call on you in class while you’re sitting there with a blank stare, and you will resent them for it. But believe it or not, their sole purpose is not to give you a hard time. If you retained any bit of information from those countless quizzes, their purpose was well served. Really, they have better things to do than pick on kids.
High school is not a means to an end. Every day of your life is open-ended; an infinite number of chances are opened up with every decision you make. Harvard-Westlake is not a machine that rushes you through a whirlwind of tests and term papers and spits you out at a top ranking college. Students here tend to have a complete preoccupation with getting into the best schools. There are an infinite number of experiences to be had and people to meet, and a single college decision is neither a finite end nor the end of the world. So even with graduation approaching in a couple weeks, the end of high school is starting to seem more like a progression into the next phase than an actual end. Everything continues.
You will get over yourself. You probably thought you were pretty cool when your mom dropped you off at the Avalon in 8th grade to see Circa Survive, or [insert X band here]. Well at least I did. It’s the exclusive feeling of hearing something first. The more obscure the better, and bonus points if the group has a name that no one can pronounce correctly or if they’re from outside the United States. But eventually you drop your pretensions. You start to do things for yourself rather than for the show of it.
You stop judging people by first impressions. It would be impossible to know someone by a first impression anyway, when during these six years of high school people are changing their clothes, hairstyles, musical tastes and personalities at a shockingly rapid rate. During a time when people are just figuring themselves out and sometimes making a fool of themselves in the process, a little leeway for judgment needs to be given. People constantly continue to change, for better or for worse, and I’ve found that first impressions usually don’t mean much.
The time does not matter. ‘Will I be late to class?’ ‘How many hours do I have left to finish this paper?’ were questions that often interrupted my thoughts. I couldn’t pay attention to what was going on around me when I was constantly watching the clock. But I found that when I stopped keeping track, I was able to enjoy myself in the present. Time is indifferent to me; it goes on regardless of whether I want it to or not. So why should I not be indifferent to time? Of course I still need to operate on some sort of structured schedule and I still feel the urge to check the time every now and then, but now I don’t wear a watch.