Do you remember what high school was like?

I drove past my high school last week and couldn’t believe how different it looked. I remember it being a lot bigger when I went there. It’s been seven years since the last time I walked the halls, ten years since the first time I stepped into the school. I remember being a nervous wreck the few weeks before school started, asking my sister over and over again how to work my lock, how I would find my locker, and if I would be able to go to my locker between classes. I don’t remember what her answers were, but she more than likely told me to just relax.

Do you remember who you were in high school? What you did? How you felt? When I think about the four years I spent walking the same packed hallways, a sea of forest green sweaters and black pants, I remember wondering if anyone noticed me. I always did well in school but making friends and being social took work. I remember the friends that eventually made, every crush that I had, and every single time I was heartbroken. I recall everything being a BIG DEAL, I can still feel my back up against my locker, my friends on either side, judging others and being judged. I remember skipping class for the first time, driving to school for the first time, being kissed for the first time.

I’ve held on to memories of parties I hosted and parties I attended. Silly mistakes and risks taken make me shake my head. I was desperate to belong and to be liked. It’s funny to think back and picture that younger version of me walking the halls. I can smell the desperation leaking from her pores. I want to reach out and hug her, to tell her that it gets better, and then worse, and then awesome. I want to tell her that everything gets a lot harder, but dreams come true. I want to tell her that after high school is over, real life begins. You’ll find out who your friends really are and you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin. I want to tell her that she will find love and it will be better than she ever dreamed it could be. I want to tell her that one day all her pain and confusion will be a distant memory, a grainy photograph, and a subtle reminder that she lived through it, that she became the best version of herself.

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– Vanessa

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