Don’t let your past define you, be yourself

Maggie Bunzel

I’ve always been told that it was important to learn from my mistakes, so I went about being okay with making them as long as I took something away from them each time. Everything came to crashing halt when I made a mistake in my junior year one night at a party.

Suddenly, my private life was public and I became insecure and racked with guilt and resentment. I became so engulfed in the emotions and the rumors that I lost myself. I became convinced that I had to keep acting like that in order to prove something to people, and perhaps, I was seeking some sort of approval, acknowledgment and acceptance.

A close friend asked me why I wanted to be accepted by my classmates so badly. Before, I couldn’t pinpoint the reason. Now, I can. Since that night, I’ve been tainted with an identity that I can’t shake and as much as I resisted, people’s perception of me started to morph into my own perception of myself too; I started to believe what other people did. And I felt like I was driving down a long road that never ended and I couldn’t turn back, I had to keep going. Second semester of my senior year, I found a way to make a U-turn and I found myself again. Maybe it was that a friendship with one of my closest friends ended or that a classmate passed away, or that I realized high school was almost ending.

Whatever it was, something changed in me. It started with honesty. So now, I’m telling this story because it’s a big step towards moving on and growing up. My intention with writing this is not to re-hash the past, it’s to admit to my mistakes and move forward. I’ve always been told that it was important to learn from my mistakes. And as the dust settles and senior year nears its end, I’m able to learn from the ones I’ve made during my time at Harvard-Westlake.

My advice to whomever is reading this is to simply accept yourself. Let the image of who you want to be dissipate and let your honest self shine through.
Let go of the burden of feeling judged and criticized. Close your eyes to the people you’re trying to prove something to and open your eyes to the people who truly accept you. Finally, don’t let your mistakes define you, even when you become consumed by them.

My journey through Harvard-Westlake has been an interesting one, full of handfuls of mistakes and difficulties. But, it’s also been full of amazing moments. I’ve learned a lot and at I’ve become a stronger, better person and for that, I am grateful.