Be the dove in the cyclone

May 16, 2022

When I first walked into the “Purple Palace” on the first day of freshman year, my mind was focused on a single objective: to fit in with everyone else and get them to like me. Acceptance from others is the common denominator in almost every teenager’s wishlist—and yet striving for such a lifestyle was probably the most colossal mistake of my life. 

I have always been an introvert—quiet, focused, and questioning my surroundings. I prosper best partaking in individual activities where I am not around others, and depend on alone time to regain energy after periods of socialization. But throughout high school, other students (and teachers) always expected more of a male like me—especially as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.

While it might not be a pleasant fact to admit, the guys with the most friends and attraction in high school tend to always be active athletically and socially and dress, talk and act in a way that conforms to the “popular” style and trends of the time. So, I tried doing everything to achieve that. I downloaded social media, tried to communicate using Gen-Z slang, and even tried my hand at a team sport. 

High school is a time of change, and not all change is bad as long as it’s for the good of yourself and not for the sole good of others. And part of what defines a change as “good” is if you feel good about yourself when you go through with that change. However, nothing I did to try and fit in or meet others’ expectations made me feel any better about myself—nor did it seem to have a similar effect on others. 

High school is like a neverending tempest. Around you, everything is always out of control: test after test bombards you and leaves you with no time for relaxation, other students compete with and judge you (even if they don’t think they do), and teachers expect more of you. The only thing that remains stable in your high school experience is yourself—that is, if you don’t give in to the vicious storm around you.

Unfortunately, I made that mistake and let other people shape who I was in high school. And let me just say, doing so yielded me the lowest point of my life thus far.

Within the ungodly hailstorm of high school life, you are but a flimsy flower in the middle of it all—and as such, we students must also learn to be our own gardeners. Your family, friends, and some of your teachers might be willing to help you, but ultimately you are the only one in charge of your life. 

Let me just tell you, reader: nobody else is in charge of you—not in high school, not ever. Your teachers, family, friends, and enemies have no control over you. It’s your life, your body, and your personality—and only you can change those things. 

So, be the kind of person I wish I had been in high school, and remember to be the dove in the cyclone. You must create your own peace by not giving yourself into the chaos.

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