^ The entrance hall of my actual high school
Ahh, high school. Thinking back to those years brings both a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. Even though it hasn’t exactly been years since I left, it certainly feels like it. I learnt a lot of things in high school that I thought were ‘the law’ at the time, and I don’t mean physics laws in the classroom. Little did I know, I would be debunking those laws myths pretty soon.
1. Popularity is vital. At school, popularity was like currency, there were the rich, and there were the poor. For some reason, the rich deserved more respect (or fear) than the poor. As a kid, I didn’t even realise that popularity wasn’t even real! It was just a self perpetuating thing that people made up in their minds, projected onto others, who lived up to expectations. It blew up people’s egos and made others feel inadequate. Luckily, I wasn’t on either end of the scale and I lived those years manoeuvring myself around the middle of it. If only I could go back now and tell everyone to stop being so silly and just be themselves.
2. You will only have ‘made it’ when you have a house/car/pool etc. The process goes like this. Go to school, get a degree, get a good job, earn good money, buy a big house, buy a big car, then buy as much as you can = live a good life. Well, that’s what we’re taught. I don’t want to criticise the school system (too much) here, but that’s exactly what it is, a system. Like a factory, we go through one end and come out the other. They tell us all the same thing and hope we get on with it. Then they measure their success by how much we can buy fifteen years later. I guess that’s how there are many more (over-)consumers in the world than there are minimalists. Luckily, we’re here to change all that.
3. Grades are everything. Yes, grades do matter, but they’re not the be all end all of everything. You need good grades if you’re planning to go to university and get a degree, which, even in this internet centered, entrepreneurial world, I still think is relevant. However, you don’t need to burn yourself out and sacrifice everything to get top grades (I was guilty of this) and you don’t need to bring your self confidence down if you don’t get what you want either. Just doing your best and keeping a balance is enough.
4. The lone star shines bright. We used to be told that it was important to stand out whenever we can. That’s when you see head cheerleaders, class reps, student body leaders, sports captains and the lot. A lot of this is a good thing, we learn to be independent and we build up our individuality.
However, in western society (compared to societal perceptions in eastern cultures I’ve studied) the idea of individual merit is pushed so hard that teamwork, humility and fairness is often forgotten. Even when we have to work in teams, a lot of us still strive to either take over, lead the team, or take as much credit as possible. When we’re older, we toot our own horns as loud as we can to show others what we’ve accomplished. It’s not our fault completely, but sometimes we care more about ourselves than the project at hand or the bigger picture. I think there’s something we can learn from eastern cultures here in that sometimes, the product of a team is much more than the sum of all the individuals, no matter how great they think they are.
5. This is how life is going to be. I remember coming out of several boring years of high school thinking, “oh my goodness, my life is going to suck”. But, I quickly realised that high school has basically nothing to do with real life. Yes you learn a couple of things, but most of the academic stuff you learnt you’ll never use again. Plus, high school doesn’t foreshadow how you’ll perform for the rest of your life. Once you leave for university, you’ll have a chance to start again, to be whoever you want to be. You can debunk all these myths and change the way you live and think.
Okay okay, high school wasn’t all that bad. Yes, it seemed to drag on but most importantly, I made some great friends, some of whom I have a feeling I will still be having occasional catch-up chats with twenty years from now.
High school, and university for that matter, is what you make of it, and after debunking these negative myths from high school, I wish you have the best university years to come.
Do you have myths to debunk? Or anything you wish you told your high school self? Please share in the comments!
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