My parents both say that high school was both the best and the worst time of their lives. I have heard many adults say that they would never go back. High school is both the best and worst time of anyone’s life.
High school is a blast. It’s chaotic and amusing and you make all of these friends who are just as crazy as you are. There are dances and football games and pep assemblies to attend. You have the first real chance to get involved with the world. High school is a rush of ups and downs, and drives everyone crazy, not just the teenager. As my good friend says, “Drama gravitates toward us.” And yet, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
I remember being told about high school every year since sixth grade. It seemed like my whole life was leading up to it. I heard different opinions about it; some made me excited for what would inevitably come, and some made me want to curl up and stay in junior high forever. High schoolers always told us one thing, though, and I never believed it: it would be a huge jump from junior high to high school.
I’m not talking about the maturity level—I’m talking about the everything-else level. In junior high, it would upset me if I had homework at all. In high school, I rejoice if I have homework in four of my eight subjects. I’m not complaining; I’m just saying that this is the way it is as you grow older. The pressure grows.
Beyond raging hormones and an increased social stress on being popular, teenagers face so many difficulties that I can’t name them all in one sitting. Some teenagers feel as if they are being looked down upon by the rest of the world, so they rebel. Some rebel just for the sake of rebelling. Girls are faced with pressures to be supermodel-thin and to wear too-tight or too-small clothing, just to get attention. Many girls feel as if that is the only kind of love they will ever receive. The guys feel pressured to use girls just to gain popularity, and the girls feel pressured to do what the guys want just to avoid the embarrassment of being less experienced, when experience simply means making mistakes.
Adults say, “We have been there.” Most adults have been through high school and faced its horrors and joys and pressures, but high school has changed since then. Teenagers nowadays face greater stress—it comes from the media, it comes from parents, it comes from teachers, but most of all, it comes from each other. There are twelve and thirteen-year-old girls pregnant in our district. They can’t legally marry yet, and they are getting ready to support their own children. They are getting ready to care for another life when they can’t even control their own.
Adults may have been there, but it is so easy to lose sight of how much it hurts. For the adults that haven’t been there for twenty years, it is easy to say to a hurting teenager that you just have to push through. Keep this in mind: it’s harder than you remember.
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