Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I've Learned Since High School

I woke up early this morning to throw on some clothes and run a brush through my hair so I could take some pictures with my siblings on their first day of school. It seems like yesterday that I was in uniform, a backpack full of brand new school supplies slung over my shoulder, and the pressures, anxieties and excitement of a new year looming over me. As cliché as it sounds, I really do feel old now, and I admit that as my mom pulled out of the driveway with kids in tow, I got a little teary eyed because that stage of my life is over, never to be repeated. 

I didn't have the easiest time in high school; I was all over the place, for one, and I was never a straight A student. I was homeschooled until 9th grade, when I "attended" an online school. I made friends and still keep in contact with a couple of them, but I struggled to stay focused and motivated, and looking back now, it really wasn't healthy for me to be sitting in front of the computer for eight hours a day. I got my first F in Logic (that doesn't mean anything, right?) and basically became a social wacko because my only physical contact was that of my family. So that was cool. Sophomore Year I did a mix of a homeschool curriculum and took two classes at the local public school (I pretty much taught myself with my mom's supervision) That didn't go too well either because I was bored and my teachers were awful. Combined with the culture shock of public school and the lack of motivation, I was left with anything but a wholesome education. Junior Year I took the plunge and enrolled full-time in a public Charter School. If I could describe it in one word (my opinion now, at least, back then I thought it was the best ever and I had finally found myself...#smh) it would be pure hell. The adults in charge didn't want to be referred to as teachers because they believed in an education where the students would teach themselves and work on projects on basically whatever they wanted. I got involved with the wrong crowd, received like one credit (yes, one) and became a person I was not proud of. 

I know what you're thinking, jeez, is there a happy ending to this horror story? Well, there is actually! A little over two years ago, my parents moved our family back to Northern California  and my siblings and I were enrolled in a K-12 Catholic School with a liberal arts emphasis and teachers who cared more about our education and well-being and less about their paycheck. I repeated my Junior Year, made friends for life, participated in Drama and acted in two performances, attended two amazing Proms, went on numerous field trips, suffered a heartbreak, and graduated with Honors, along with my fourteen classmates. It was the best experience of my life, even though there were days when I dreaded getting up, and there was more drama in a classroom of twenty than there ever was in a public school of 500. My teachers truly loved us and ignited within us a spark that will never burn out. They taught us the importance of our faith and how our actions affect others even if we don't think they do. 

I was blessed to attend a school where all four of my younger siblings were on the same campus. I have so many wonderful memories of seeing my baby brother playing on the playground and helping the 2nd grade teacher organize her classroom. I remember buying Starbucks every single day because Seniors were cool and could leave campus at lunch. I remember rides to Chipotle in my friend's red Mustang, four of us squished in, rain or shine, literally running back to homeroom before the bell rang, trying to beat the principle before the not-so-adored Economics class. I smile as I look back on playing the role of the gypsy queen in the original Snow White, and the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland and yes, I remember not learning my lines until the week of the performance and getting stage fright so badly that we basically made up the scene as we went along on opening night. I remember dancing till my feet ached on Prom Night and how it was one of the happiest nights of my life. I remember walking up the stage on my graduation day, receiving the diploma I had finally earned, and meeting one of my best friends later that day. (As unexpected as it was, she's one of the best things that ever happened to me and I would never go back) 

Though it's only been three months, I've learned many things since graduating; some good and some bad, but everything is a lesson. 

  1. No matter how hard you beg, some things won't change and you just have to accept it
  2. The most unexpected friendships are the ones that can lift you the highest
  3. Though cheaper, buying college textbooks on Amazon can be risky because the fine print reads "most likely delivered September 20" and class starts on August 26
  4. The amount of coffee consumed does not decrease just because you don't have to get up at 5:30 every morning 
  5. Goodbyes don't get easier the older you get
  6. It will hurt for a long time, but faking it can hold you over, so can buying new underwear and binge-watching Netflix
  7. Also, Netflix solves everything (or at least helps)
  8. You never realize how many pairs of jeans and how few shirts you have until you start packing up your wardrobe into one suitcase
  9. Remember when $100 seemed like a ton of money? In the real world, it doesn't go far
  10. Times will be hard and things will come and go, but family is forever and adopted family makes it worth the pain in the end
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