Senior Reflection: The evolution of a high school student

Leann Jenks, Senior Staff Writer

If I could go back and tell my freshman self one thing, it would be to stop trying to do everything in your power to fit in, because sooner rather than later, you’re going to regret it. 

Freshman year was all about fitting in. Many of us wore the same clothes, posted the same things on Instagram and even used the same mannerisms. Ripped skinny jeans, high-top white converse and colorful scrunchies—we were all carbon copies of one another. We desperately wanted to fit in, and I don’t blame us. 

For the first chunk of high school, I didn’t allow myself to be authentic. I followed the trends, whether or not I liked them. The list of trends I followed that I didn’t actually enjoy is quite lengthy, ranging from wearing athleisure almost every day of my freshmen year to hanging up LED lights in my room. Many high schoolers dream of having a perfect experience without feeling left out. In order to avoid that feeling, freshmen decide to conform.

Sure, that awkward fitting-in phase of freshman year builds character, but for me, it lasted way too long. For the first half of high school, I was not able to truly find myself because I was too worried about what others thought. I missed out on living my high school experience to the fullest because I was so caught up in opinions other than my own. 

But now, here I am as a senior, and I am finally unafraid to be my own person.  I will speak for most of my classmates and say that they feel the same. I don’t think this was a conscious decision, but rather part of the natural progression of high school. As I got older and more mature, I realized that my opinion matters most, rather than the opinions of people I hardly know. No longer do I follow every single trend, especially those that I don’t even like. I do not feel that I need to post something on Instagram just because everyone else is. Most of all, I have developed my own interests, hobbies and style mostly free from the influence of my classmates. 

I just wish it didn’t take me this long to realize that I should not be afraid to make my own decisions and express who I really am.