When I began high school – bright red hair and completely awkward clothing choices included – I had this crazy notion that I wanted to be a veterinarian. Really. Only in the past six months have I focused on what I’m actually going to do, and it is about as opposite to a veterinarian as you can get. I am going to study journalism and film at the University of Kansas in the hopes of doing…well, something that relates to those things.
The reasons why I changed my mind are fairly simple, but the way I figured it out is more important to understand. I’ve truly just played the try-it-until-you-get-it-right game. I have taken seven science classes, Debate, Choir, five art classes, IB for a semester, and I have been involved in everything from French Club to Journalism.
All the random things I’ve done here and the different people I have met have helped me determine who I really want to be. You can never fully decide who you are and “find yourself”, if you will, if you don’t let loose and let people see you for who you are. I have always, and will forever be, kind of quirky. Only in the past year or so, though, have I allowed myself to be completely comfortable with expressing myself to my peers.
This week, when I tore open my senior letters, I got a chance to see how my close friends saw me as a person exactly four years ago. I had a few that were the usual “You’re a great girl and you’ll go far!”, but I also had a couple that really made me emotional. Someone pointed out my love for film and my ability to make people laugh. At that age I hadn’t even recognized that in myself. Then in English the other day, everyone in class wrote down something that they admired about every other person in the class. I was pleased that people seemed to respect my humor and confidence and not at all surprised that some appreciated my love for Harry Potter.
Above all else, these processes tell me exactly how East has changed me for the better and how it has allowed me to represent myself to my peers and to the world in the manner I see fit. At the beginning of freshman year I was as wacky as they come and that hasn’t changed. But now I have learned how to completely embrace it and rarely attempt to tone it down as I did when I was younger.
However, I honestly don’t feel that I have fundamentally changed. I have always been one of those people that doesn’t feel like what you do is the most important – it doesn’t determine who you are. I believe that how your attitude and how you act are better markers of your personality than anything else. High school, through its many ups and downs, has helped me develop my attitude towards difficult situations and how I deal with the conflicts that I come across.
I now possess a metaphorical utility belt that contains all the tools that East has provided me with: knowledge, activism, mad Calculus skills, etc. Just like Batman, I am ready and willing to use those tools to get to where I need to be, whether it’s on the top of Gotham City’s tallest building or to graduate school.
It’s really over. Four years of grueling homework, adventures with friends, crazy teachers and finding my way. These four years have sure been swell, but I know that the next four years will be better because I now see myself in a better light, instead of looking to others for validation. I hope that high school does for others what it did for me so that every wacky kid can attain the level of confidence that they deserve.
East, it’s truly been goast.