From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Changes and the Game “High School”

School is a battlefield for your heart.

Angela, My So-Called Life

In the still darkness of my bedroom, my mind wandered unrestrained by the four walls that created boundaries for my body. I could not see a single thing. My vision was blurred without my glasses, leaving only my mind to see things in focus.

For the past year my life had been spinning out of control. I was becoming disoriented in a world I had once seen with vision as clear as crystal. Everything was changing. My friends were being lost to boyfriends, crushes and obsessions. The world that revolved around me was being dismantled, smashed and demolished by the people who had helped make it. Everything was falling apart, and I couldn’t stop it.

Things were changing. “High school is a place to grow, to experiment and to change,” someone once told a scared, unsure eighth-grader on the fateful first day at a whole new game with rules unknown. I didn’t want to ever change, and so I tried to make a square block fit into a circular hole. Needless to say, it did not work. I spent a whole year in lies—black destructive lies that I now regret and would rather forget. I tried to follow my friends in all that they did, positive that they knew better. At parties, I tried what everyone else did, but the next day I realized I had not had that much fun.

My friends were trying to help me fit into this mold, and it hurt to be prodded, poked and squeezed like a tube of toothpaste just to try to fit in. All of the things I had promised myself before entering high school just didn’t seem to apply. I grew silly, obnoxious, like a crybaby or a little girl. I did not mature; I grew immature. I thought I was cute and likable. What I did not realize was that I was a fraud. I tried to be like everyone else. I started to dress in the same clone-like fashions, talk, write and even eat the same way.

Later that year a new girl arrived in high school. I decided to support her by being a life raft for a while. Little did I expect that she would start to copy me. Like everyone else, I pretended to know what I was doing. As she spent more and more time with me, I realized that little things like her choice of words, hand gestures and her attitude were all annoying. One gray, gloomy day, I had taped myself giving a speech and when I played it back, it did not sound like me. I could not recognize the voice on the tape for a while and then it hit me. The attitude and persona portrayed through my voice was like hers. I was the same. From that moment I detested myself. Through this hatred, a window opened and for a nanosecond I saw the girl who didn’t care what everyone else thought, who always stood up for others and who had friends who loved her just the way she was. She was the real me. Full of determination, I started the long, perilous hike back to individuality. On the way up, I found pieces of myself that I had lost along the way. My life had become a long quest in which I was to search for priceless capsules holding my identity and to put them back in the treasury of my soul. The quest is undoubtedly not over, but I gain more freedom every day. I now surprise my friends and myself with values and morals I didn’t know I possessed and I no longer just take others’ words for truth anymore.

I realized high school is a game we all play. We are thrown into a big pool with no one yelling expectations, instructions or the objective. We are forced to sink or swim. Perhaps I have seen the light, the truth and the goal of high school. Or perhaps I have only opened my eyes to a bigger stage of shadows and illusions. Who really knows?

Adelene Wong

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