How I Choose to Remember High School

“It was bad, but what in high school is not? At the time we are stuck in it, like hostages locked in a Turkish bath, high school seems the most serious business in the world to just about all of us. It is not until the second or third class union that we start realizing how absurd the whole thing was.”

–Stephen King (On Writing)


By Nhi

After graduation, New York City

Many people I know think of high school as hell.

Public high schools?

Those are the dreadful places forcing them to wake up at dawn and wait desperately for the rumbling sounds of buses and trains. The long lines never end, from the first day squeezing in counselors’ offices to drop classes that they never signed up for to the last moment of schools when receiving a diploma still gives them beads of sweat soaking their shirts. Only they will understand how it feels to get through the milling crowds in the school hallways, sit in classes with the heat during sizzling days, and look helplessly at smart boards that never work.

But those were not the worst.

High school is given during a time when people can be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure. Many teenagers, who still wonder the questions of who they are and what they really want, feel the need to assimilate and make people like them. Some want to be popular, and some just want to avoid being hated until graduation.

I have seen examples of people who fail to deal with gossip, academic pressure, heartbreak and finally give in to depression, or even suicidal. I know people who confront economic and serious emotional problems but receive little or no help from others. I also witness how people can change during high school time, for the better or for the worse. There are friends who start out as confident individuals, but after facing ridicule from their peers, shrink from even coming to classes. The time in high school can be a memorable experience for some people who are blessed with luck, good communication skills, and adorable looks but at the same time, it can give others a difficult and even painful time. Until my junior year when I took a health class, did I know that there were people in the school who help students deal with those psychological problems. However, not many students utilize this advantage.

But for me, high school is a gift. I love the free breakfasts, reduced lunches/ metro cards offered by New York Department of Education and the multicultural environment I was a part of during high school. As I was lucky enough to stay away from all the bullies, I had time to concentrate on developing myself, creating relationships with genuine people and making mistakes.  I like the idea of schools, because no matter how many drawbacks the environments and systems of education may have, students can still learn about themselves and people around them. We walk on the first steps of learning about our flaws and strength, realizing what we like/ dislike and starting to define ourselves a little. During my graduation, there was one person ( I cannot remember who) saying that the age I am at is the most beautiful, because I am old enough to be sensible, but young enough to make mistakes many times. I cannot agree more.

I am a high school graduate, so pardon me for having a moment of complacency by offering this advice to people who have not graduated yet:

Millions of hashtags and selfies cannot define who you are. I am sure you are more than that.

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“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” –Emerson


8 thoughts on “How I Choose to Remember High School

  1. I graduated high school with honors because of my dedication not only at lessons but also at my living plan, I had to face the biggest challenge so far, I got sick with schizophrenia and for a moment I thought that it was the end for me, but somehow there was this supernatural strength that pushed me forward and made me finish what I had started: school, personal changes, terrible friendships.

    Now I look back and feel so proud of myself, with hope in the unknown future.


    1. Valentín, I can’t fully understand your struggles because I have never experienced schizophrenia. But from my psychology class, I know a little about this disease. Graduating high school must have not been easy for you, but you did it. And that makes you a superhero that I respect from the bottom of my heart. Keep working and don’t ever give up on what you want to do.


  2. Very good post; You have brought out some excellent insights that should resonate with those who are experiencing those years. I was intrigued with your choice of a word (given) in one phrase: “High is given during a time…” As I read the rest of the post, I saw that it was an astute choice. Nice work (as usual).


      1. I just noticed that while I was complimenting you on your careful word choice, I failed to notice that I inadvertently omitted a word (school) when I quoted your phrase. I guess we would call that ironic. I’ll be sure to proofread my own words next time.;-)


      2. Haha, it is definitely okay. Through your blog’s writing and your comments, I know that you are a good and experienced writer (who I can learn from a lot). And sometimes we think faster than we write, so it is difficult not to make some mistakes, especially when commenting 😀


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