My path to “enlightenment”

April 27, 2020

“High school is a time to grow and find yourself,” said everyone ever. This cliche always annoyed me, and I am not sure why. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to admit that there were some things about me that were less than desirable or… something else… but probably the first thing. As annoying as cliches can be, they do hold at least a little but of truth, and though that truth took until the end of junior year for me to find, I’m glad I did.
The path to my “enlightenment”, if you will, was a tough one. I had my fair share of highs, but also some of my lowest lows. I struggled to show how I really felt about people and tended to push people away, including close friends. I would say things that would hurt people so then I wouldn’t be hurt first. I was constantly defending myself against nothing. Because of this, I didn’t leave the house much freshman year. I began to feel very alone. This loneliness carried on into sophomore year, and then junior year, when things rapidly declined for me. It seems ironic when I look back on junior year being my toughest personally, as I had the most going for me than any year prior. I was on the best J.V. golf team anybody has ever seen, I was a part of the best We the People unit I could have asked for (long live Unit Four), I was a part of a fantastic journalism class that gave me one of the best lunch buddies, and coolest friends, I could have asked for (whaddup Nicky V). Yet, I still felt more alone than I had before.
I allowed people to reinforce my negative opinions of the things I truly liked doing, like We the People and Journalism, even though the positive reinforcement was overwhelming. I was consumed in negativity, and felt that the only option was to continue hating whatever it was that I was doing until I actually hated it. Fortunately for me, I found out that I can only hate the things I love to a point. Unfortunately I found that out when I had, what we will call a very low point, and decided to quit the things I was a part of. I thought, “Well Jack, if you quit it, then you must hate it right?” Yeah, not really. I realized this mistake when I woke up the next morning. Luckily, when teachers receive and email from their students at 11 P.M. on a Thursday night that says, “I quit Weeple. You can keep the nationals deposit.” their first conclusion isn’t “Ok, cool,” it’s “We should talk about this.” So for that, here’s a shout out to Mr. Horos.
Now, almost a year to the day later, I look back and wonder, how did this not happen sooner? Why did it take me three years of unnecessary hostility and being a poor friend to realize that it wasn’t other people or places or things (or any other definition of a noun), but that it was me who was making me miserable? I may never know, but I do know that it is no longer worth dwelling on the past, because I can’t change it. I have caught myself slipping back to my old ways of hating everything, but I catch myself, and do my best to enjoy every second of what I am doing, even if I actually do hate it. And though a realization may happen over night, “growth” and “finding yourself” do not. The realization is what will help you grow to find yourself.
I know this sounds like I never had a good time in high school, and that is not true. Some of my best memories have been made over the past four years, and I have made some of my best friends that I will probably have for many years to come. I have loved the past four years of high school, and can honestly say I wouldn’t change anything. Ok, maybe I’d change one or two things, but that’s not the point. Thank you to all who have made my time in high school what it was, whether the relationship was good, bad or a one time, random partner in class that I haven’t talked to since, it has all made me a better person than I was freshman year.

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