My High School Years

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I remember when I was in middle school I would watch “That’s So Raven,” on Disney Channel all day, wishing I was already in High School like Raven, so that I could have the same pleasurable experiences as she did. But little did I know “That’s So Raven,” was a fantasy and that life would not be so easy.

Social media hadn’t really taken its sway over me until my freshman year at high school. The year began with me trying to find an identity for myself, as well as what made me different from those around me. I lacked solid self-confidence and self-reliance. I believed that you couldn’t disagree without jeopardizing the relationship. I no longer wanted to be a background character; but the center of the scene. As I was new, I felt like all eyes were on me and that everyone was waiting to see what I had to bring to the table. My need to impress a bunch of people who I soon realized couldn’t care less about me, only led to increased feelings of anxiety, poor body image and loneliness. I cared about my social image just as a politician running for office. My own Instagram profile probably didn’t even represent the person that I felt like on the inside. It was adverse that social media became all about fitting in and showing off, just at a time when my self-esteem became more fragile as I became more self conscious.

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It took me until my sophomore year to realize that the more identities you have, and the more time you spend pretending to be someone you aren’t, the harder it’s going to be to feel good about yourself. But this realization didn’t just stir up by itself.

Around the middle of my sophomore year, I made friends with this junior named Samm. He didn’t come to school that often because he didn’t really appreciate the confines that our education system had instigated towards learning beyond the classroom’s walls. I couldn’t disagree with him on that. Within a few months of getting to know him, he suddenly became diagnosed with paraplegia; the lower half of his body became completely paralyzed. But still so, he refused to live his life like a vegetable, and he continued pursuing his passion – basketball. At first he avoided going to the basketball court in fear of getting mocked by other peers, but he realized that if he was able to accept himself, then given a little time, others would be able to do so as well. While that friend of mine dreamt of forming the first national wheelchair basketball league in Bangladesh, there I was trying to impress a bunch of people I didn’t even really know. His continuous and ongoing journey of finding himself stimulated me to embrace the fact that I am who I am today and I am who I will be tomorrow, with all my flaws. I learnt that I couldn’t please everyone and that there would always be some people who just wouldn’t like me.

My first two years in high school had thus ended, with me finally grasping the fact that self-esteem comes from consolidating who you are and knowing how to say what you think and feel, even when you’re in disagreement with the person or it feels emotionally risky.

Unlike most people, who think that their freshman year is like starting a whole new chapter, I perceived that feeling when beginning my junior year. I began to explore and take advantage of the vast options and opportunities I had. Since I didn’t want to look back and wish or regret something that I did or didn’t do, I decided to only make moments that I would want to remember. I turned to befriending more like-minded people and those who would hopefully have a positive impact on me.

To extirpate the negativity around me I decided to cut a multitude of people out of my life that dragged me down in one way or another; especially energy zappers and promoters of bad habits. It is till date one of the key steps I’ve encountered on my way to finding happiness. Friends will come and go and that is natural. Severing ties with some people made scope for more positive people to come into my life; and gave me more time to nurture the true relationships I had.

After overcoming various predicaments I began my final and senior year feeling a sense of worthiness and strength. The insidious problems I had to face that year are but a smudge on my memory. In order to make my senior year my best year, I decided to the things I enjoyed doing. I encouraged juniors not to fall victim to the negative sides of peer pressure. I didn’t want other students to go through the same things I experienced and felt inclined to stand up for a change; but I understood that change takes one step at a time and that it’s up to everyone to take the first step on their own. I decided to initiate a certain platform which would mentally and physically prepare students to interact with the environment around them and would also allow them to express their thoughts and emotions. This platform made me believe that being an agent in my community wasn’t just a cliché for me, but a necessary commitment.

I graduated high school learning that school and teachers can only teach us so much, and that the real learning comes from self-motivation. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of staying true to what you believe personally and following your moral compass, even in the foggiest conditions. High school helped me grow academically, emotionally, socially and realistically; and though it wasn’t the best four years of my life, as it is for many, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the experience. 


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