High School Is No Fairy Tale Movie

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High School Is No Fairy Tale Movie

We're led to believe high school will be the time of our lives. Then the reality of hard work and social drama sets in.

We're led to believe high school will be the time of our lives. Then the reality of hard work and social drama sets in.

Photo and graphic by Nell Burgener

We're led to believe high school will be the time of our lives. Then the reality of hard work and social drama sets in.

Photo and graphic by Nell Burgener

Photo and graphic by Nell Burgener

We're led to believe high school will be the time of our lives. Then the reality of hard work and social drama sets in.

By Nell Burgener, Lake Forest High School

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I grew up driving past the infamous green lawn of Lake Forest High School, dreaming about when I would call the white, ivy covered building my home.  After graduating from middle school in 2015, I thought high school would be the best thing to ever happen to me, my claim to fame, if you will. Many incoming freshman probably feel the same way.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I should probably note that this is not intended to be discouraging or threatening by any stretch. It is merely explaining the reasons why I wish I hadn’t gotten my hopes so high for the four years of high school. At orientation, no one mentions how bad high school can be at times.

Without sounding cliche, I can’t put into words how high school can change a person. The other night I was scrolling through the photo app, VSCO, and saw a post that said “High school. It changes people into the person they said they’d never become.”

Try telling that to the overly preppy, puny little freshman that was myself. She’d say you’re crazy.

I pictured myself walking across the stage on graduation day in 2019 wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress and Jack Rogers, similar to the ones that I had worn four years prior at my 8th grade graduation. With high school graduation now being only two short months away, I can assure you that you couldn’t pay me to wear what middle school Nell had initially envisioned.

For me, high school has not been easy. When I think back to freshman orientation, I remember the emotionally scarring clap-in (yes, it still scares me, even today), and a lineup of deans explaining logistical things, such as what to do when your mom drops you off late at school and how many classes you’re allowed to miss.

Our school was presented to me as amazing place where I would love every teacher, smile and laugh with my friends at lunch every day, and excel in my classes without too much stress.

Although I am sure some of my peers have lived up to those high expectations of high school, I, along with so many others, have fallen short.

I haven’t gone a full semester getting along perfectly with each of my teachers; I’ve been rejected by friend groups; I’ve spent late nights crying over assignments that weren’t going to get done on time; and my report card isn’t exactly worthy of being posted on the fridge. Ask any current students or alumni, and they can probably say the same things.

High school is an ongoing battle. Sometimes it feels like you are pouring every ounce of effort in but not getting anything back out. Sometimes you won’t be able to balance your time responsibly. Sometimes you’ll humiliatingly need to drop a class that you just can’t seem to even barely pass.

Your social standing will ebb and flow, and it will be hard sometimes. It’s inevitable.

Going into freshman year, no one warned me of these things, so I assume no one’s going to warn next year’s incoming freshmen either.

High school might be the hardest four years of your life up to this point. High school might make you feel isolated and not good enough. If your expectations for the next few years are too high, things might seem like they suck.

If your expectations for the next few years are too high, things might seem like they suck.”

I realize that I probably just made the years of high school sound horrific. Let me clarify that these hardships certainly were tough, but they have made me a better person, and I have a feeling that they will do the same for every student to walk through the white front doors.

Sometimes you need to feel like a social reject in order to rethink how you’re presenting yourself and eventually find your best friends, the people you were made to find. You’ll need to fail the occasional test or forget a few homework assignments in order to better learn how to use resources and get help. You’ll get put into a horrible group project which will teach you leadership and patience.

In four years, you will come out the other side as a form of yourself that is closer to the best version you that exists. Yeah, it might suck, but take it from the most average girl to walk the halls of LFHS: you’ll do great.

This story was originally published on The Forest Scout on March 21, 2019.