"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Things High School Taught Me

Now Playing: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah & the Whale (you've got more than money and sense, my friend, you've got heart and you're going your own way) 

1. I am really, really hard on myself. 

I am pretty much the only person I know who cries when I don't get 90s in English. Growing up as a nerd I learnt very young to tie a lot of my self worth to the numbers I get on assignments which is...not healthy, I know. But I only realized how obsessive I was over that once I had gotten to high school, skipped a grade, and I wasn't the best and it wasn't easy to get the kind of marks that I wanted - year eight was a bit of an ego kick and I'd never worked so hard in my life. That being said, though, I also realized that I'm not happy coasting along and I'm not happy without a challenge - Year 10 English for me was a walk in the park, once I'd learned all the ropes in year nine, but I felt that same restlessness I felt in primary school. And then year eleven and definitely year twelve it became really hard again and I really struggled to have realistic expectations and not to get too hung up on numbers.

2. I read really, really deep. Too deep? I don't know.

I blame my amazing English and Lit teachers for this, but I read into everything very, very deep. I have a pretty good memory and I spend far too much time mulling over the most pedestrian conversations and fretting over the most trivial of things. As a consequence, I can often convince myself that someone hates me over something that they probably forgot six seconds after it happened. And I have a lot of secret hunches about a lot of people which I think are true because I do trust my intuition but I don't really want to voice them because there's a chance I might be wrong and people will think I'm crazy. Which in itself sounds slightly kooky, but every time I have ignored my gut feeling because I'm worried that I am reading too deep and I'm totally missing the point I've regretted it, because I was right all along and wrong not to follow my own advice. So maybe I don't read too deep. Maybe I see things, important things, that everyone else misses.

3. I'm very, very insecure.

I guess I always knew this, but I only understood the depth of my insecurities and the causes of them when I got to high school. Primary school was not a healthy place for me to grow up. I know many people perceived me to be, after eight years in that place, to be proud, haughty, bitterly hostile and very defensive, when the truth is that I was broken by years of being told that I wasn't good enough, never good enough - by my classmates, by boys, by teachers. To try and cover up my self-esteem issues and to not let them get to me I would often pretend to have more self-confidence than I ever had and then I would get knocked down for being 'too proud'. This vicious circle led to huge problems - to get people off my back I would buy into whatever they said and pretend to be a mincing, defeated, insecure little kid, and I couldn't shake off this feeling of total inadequacy that I believe led to my depression. And it wasn't just academia and socially, too - when one is eight and shy and timidly in love the best thing to happen is not to have every boy in the grade laugh in your face and tell you that you're not good enough, never good enough.

The consequence? Well, I do stupid things thinking that my efforts will result in nothing so I might as well have fun going through the motions. I don't believe that the big and crazy and only-happens-to-pretty-girls moments happened even after they've happened.

4. I like my own company, and I need my own space.

I know some people - including me, sometimes - get very confused that I get very, very lonely, but I'm constantly running away from people. Solitary people get lonely too, sometimes, that's what I've learned. Solitary people are really quite needy. I've learned that it's okay to want to have some alone time, and that real friends will give you the space that you need.

5. I am very, very impatient. And that's not entirely a bad thing.

One of the first things I did as a year eight was skip a grade in English. I've been desperate to get out of high school ever since it started - not because I hated it, not at the beginning, anyway, but because I couldn't wait to be in the real world. I am very impatient with people, something that has been somewhat exacerbated by four years at an academic elite school because the people I associate with are pretty sharp. But my impatience has been a very good motivator when times got tough. So I'm not saying it's an altogether bad thing.

6. Apparently I ask too much of men AND settle for too little. Simultaneously.

I'd never considered myself the kind of girl who bought into every chick-lit, rom-com cliche, but apparently I am much more naive than I thought. Apparently expecting decency, respect and intelligent, mature conversation is too much to ask from boys, and I'm an idiot for expecting these kind of things from the boys I hang out with. Also, apparently I am also an idiot for being forgiving and not minding what a lot of other girls seem to mind - mostly any evidence that the boys I hang out with have any hormones or nerve endings whatsoever. I don't know how you can ask too much and settle for too little at the same time ,but apparently you can.

7. What other people say really, really, really doesn't matter. 

Democracy sucks. Seriously. Because it runs on the premise that if everyone's doing it, or if everyone's thinking it, it must be right. It's just an institutionalized form of suppressing minorities and silencing independent thought, really. We're little democratic sheep and I've decided to become a llama. Shit happens, but being fearless...it's worth it.

8. Nothing's worth doing unless you're having fun.

'If you put as much effort into your politics assignment/science homework/running that huge-ass cross country track as you did in that English essay you'd be really good'. Yeah, maybe. But nothing's worth doing unless you're having fun. I learnt that in high school.

9. Shit happens when you least expect it.

If you told me about half of the things that have happened this year to a fifteen year old me I would have told you that you're high on something. This has been the craziest, most random year ever - nothing turned out how I planned and the weirdest, most wonderful things - and some downright shitty things - happened when I least expected it, things that had never occurred to me and I doubted even after they had happened. It's been a bit bizarre, very cool, insanely scary but fearless.

10. Whatever will be, will be.

If you lose a friend, a better one will come along. If someone dumps you, it means you deserve better. If you miss out on one opportunity a thousand more open up. You never ever fail, you only find many different ways to not succeed, and you never ever lose, you only end with varying levels of success. Give everything a shot, because you get brownie points for trying. You'll silently wish that the earth would swallow you up because half of the things that come out of your mouth are dead scary and embarrassingly stupid and mortifyingly humiliating, but the things you'll regret the most are the things you wish you could have said, but didn't. You're never too old to dye your hair bright red or dance around in your pjs getting ready for school. Never be afraid to speak your mind and to be yourself - a diamond in the rough is infinitely more precious than a shiny rhinestone.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Yay for llamahood and the real world!

"You never fail, you find ways to not succeed" (and the second part of that sentence) - that is true, and the bit about the opportunities.

Six seconds does seem like a long time to hang on to a thing, even for me.

Rhinestones are very common, aren't they? And a bit flinty to put on clothes and things. (Says I after experience with a rhinestone kit).

Yes, that's a quality of a real friend. Space.

And the thing where you get brownie points for not trying ... that's something I could have done without.