I have watched way too many “coming of age” high school movies, you know the ones where the girl is choosing between Harvard or Stanford but all she really wants to do is sing. I was always disappointed when the movie ended because they were never accurate to real life. But looking back on high school now, it seems like my experiences might’ve been more like these movies than I thought. I was lucky enough to have the friendships like in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” and memories equivalent to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” I mean, there was nothing as spectacular as Heath Ledger serenading me on the bleachers with a Frankie Valli song like in “10 Things I Hate About You” but winning the lacrosse state championship, going to football games decked out in paint, and playing Just Dance in my friends basements were just as thrilling and memorable. I do wish I was able to experience a synchronized dance sequence in the middle of the lunch room like in High School Musical, but some things will just have to wait until college, I guess.
While these movies gave us a glimpse into a character’s coming of age experience, the soundtracks to these films captured the feelings of nostalgia and excitement more than anything else. In this way, too, the songs we listened to all throughout high school encapsulated our experience. They were the soundtrack to our movie. Even just a single note or melody brings back a flood of memories and emotions that would’ve otherwise been lost to time. I look back now and all I see is a montage of the best moments of high school playing to “Where is the love” or “Good old days”: driving around the lake with the windows down on a warm summer day blasting the latest song obsession, the smell of bonfires, beach days and cottage nights, lacrosse games in 90 degree weather, laughing so hard in class I pee my pants.
Just like in a coming of age movie, there always has to be some external force that causes some hard realizations and difficult tasks. For me, I struggled with facing perfection in my grades because of my own self-expectations. With many conversations with teachers, and late-nights stressing I am finally coming to terms after four years that perfection is overrated, but if you work hard you will see the results. My high school movie threw a curve ball at me this year, as I had to figure out how to balance my responsibilities as a student and as a daughter after my mom had emergency brain surgery. High school was obviously not all ups and there were a lot of very low lows but those moments will not be the ones you remember. I was able to learn from some of the most challenging times of high school. From cross country, after I peaked in speed Freshman year and then continuously got slower, I learned to have fun. Cross country went from a sport I was so anxious about, to one where I was able to make some of the best memories. Like swimming in the lake when we were supposed to be on a four mile run, hiding out in John Collins park, and watching the boys tennis team. I learned how to have fun and not worry. All of the challenges I faced helped prepare me for the end of my high school movie, and the start of college. East has prepared me to be independent, driven, take the harder classes, and take every opportunity I have.
For me, high school really was one big movie. I would not want to change anything about my time in East Grand Rapids and there are so many people that would be in “Credits” at the end of my movie so I could thank them. From all of my teachers, to my coaches, the best friends, and family, my credit roll would be packed. High school at East was truly the epitome of a coming of age movie.