It was four years of my life. It likely was or will be for you as well. But what happened during those four years? How do I feel now that it’s done?
My first day was wondrous. Surreal. I sat in the broadcast room of the Commonwealth Governor’s School as my English teacher discussed religion and the existence of God with us – I was captivated.
By the time the first month of school was over, I was crying nearly daily once I got home. I’ve never seen Ethan actually happy is a quote I pulled from a text conversation early freshman year. What was wrong with me? is a thought that I can have now – but the thought that I had then was What is wrong with everyone else?
I spent the majority of high school not only struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, but blaming everyone else for my problems. I was so flawed, and my greatest flaw was not seeing that. It was their fault that I was upset, not the fact that I couldn’t properly interpret and control my emotions. That toxic mindset led to me becoming an arsonist, burning every bridge that I thought couldn’t handle a million pounds of my emotional baggage, and then trying to rebuild them when I realized I didn’t know how to swim.
The smallest things used to set me off. One text not responded to, a joke not laughed at, or someone late to a hangout could cause me to shut down. While it was the actions of other people that caused me to shut down, what I needed to realize was that I was flawed, not them. Sure, they can help being late or could respond to my texts faster, but it’s much easier to try and change your own behavior than others. It wasn’t until my Senior year that I accepted that.
I began writing down my problems, social situations that went wrong, and friendships I was unhappy with. Then I began thinking about how I could have done things differently, and aspects of myself that I could improve upon so that those things didn’t happen again. Writing them down forced me to think and re-examine the situation, and examining how I could improve made me blame myself (healthily) instead of other people. I stopped shutting down when things didn’t work out, and instead just changed my expectations and behavior.
Things got better. Not perfect, but better. I became more accepting of other’s flaws, and more aware of my own. I began seeking out new friends while also finding new enjoyment in solo activities. I’d like to think people see me as truly happy and having a good time now (let me know below?), and I no longer struggle with depression. Who knew that to feel different, you had to change something!
While I overcame my issues in high school without medication or therapy, I want to make it clear that this can’t be a reality for everyone. If you have a friend that is struggling, be there for them, but also encourage them to seek professional help – it could change their life.
I don’t think I’m finished growing or learning yet. There’s still many flaws that I have yet to address, but you can check back on this blog in four years for my What College Was for Me post for those. For me, high school wasn’t just about learning how to deal with the mitochondria or calculus. It was also about learning how to deal with other people, and more importantly, myself.