photo by Katie Golden and Ella Sinciline

Don’t believe the myth that the “real world” begins after high school. We’re living in it right now.

How Will You Be Remembered?

As the Kavanaugh hearing continues to ensue, a significant point is brought to light: Who you are before you graduate high school matters – especially now.

Kavanaugh was appointed by President Trump to become a member of the Supreme Court. The confirmation hearing has, however, become an ordeal for all interested parties, as allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct have arisen. This initial sexual assualt allegation, now accompanied by several others, has developed into an investigation focused solely on Kavanaugh’s actions during his high school years — specifically, actions at parties and comments made in yearbooks.

Some supporters of Kavanaugh are quick to dismiss his alleged actions, saying that “he was only a kid.”  This point interests me, because when I look around at my classmates, who are the same age as (and even younger than) Kavanaugh was when he allegedly committed those actions, I do not see kids. I see people who are eloquent, decisive, and intelligent. I see people who have control over their thoughts and actions.  I see people who have self-awareness and can decipher right from wrong.

Yet some of us seem to strongly believe that teenagers should not be held accountable for their actions.  It’s hard to determine if bias is at the root of the Kavanaugh situation.  Have those in favor of his confirmation also made poor choices that they would not want to be held accountable for? Do his critics simply want to obstruct Trump at every turn?  Do his supporters simply want to see conservatives take charge?

Or do they sincerely believe that teenagers do not have the mental capacity to understand their own thoughts and actions?  

Now it’s clear that, wherever you fall on the political spectrum, this case proves that your actions in high school can matter to some extent, perhaps in unimaginably significant ways.

Who we are, and have been, will continue to matter. Kavanaugh’s lewd comments in a yearbook from an era with no internet or social media have nevertheless come to light and will forever be held by many as a reflection of his character. Because of his “100 kegs or bust” comment, people see him as a boozehound unfit for the honor of Supreme Court Justice.

In our world of ever-present social media, the stakes are even higher.  It is much easier to immortalize childish actions, as the internet can provide an endless archive of bad choices. Be careful what you say, post, and do, because when you enter the workforce, it is indisputable that your hopeful employer will have full access to any inappropriate tweet, picture, or post that you have ever uploaded. 

But we’ve been given ample warning about our presence on social media for as long as we can remember.  What’s also clearly the case is that the decisions we make on weekends also matter. Habits with alcohol and drugs factor into the perspectives others have of us, even decades from now. A single bad decision at 11:00pm on a random Saturday night could put an end to a successful career twenty years in the future, a career that is yet to even be dreamed of.

Regardless of your political views, the Kavanaugh trial should force us to reflect upon who we are right now in high school. In this era of intense public scrutiny, it is important for everyone to ask themselves how they treat others and how this could go on to affect their lives. 

Ask yourself:  Are you respectful when you speak to others? Do your peers have a positive impression of you? Have you posted anything that you would not want the world to see? Is there any resemblance between your actions and Kavanaugh’s allegations? 

This story was originally published on The Uproar on October 4, 2018.

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