by Colleen Yates
It took a while for me to understand that people are not judging me every second of the day. It also took way too long for me to see that people are not cooler or above others. We are not above or below people in terms of popularity. We are just all different people with our own values and interests. In high school, students are pretty much all on the same level. Whether we are “cool” or just kind of here, we are all in the same school, getting by until we can get out. I wish I had figured this out earlier.
For the longest time I thought everyone else was judging me. I would be scared to order at restaurants or check out at the grocery store. At school, I was afraid to breathe too loud, or walk too fast, or too slow. Afraid to cough, sneeze, and even afraid to go to the bathroom. I was petrified that somebody “cooler” than me would judge me and tell their friends how weird I was. I was afraid to answer questions in any class because I thought I might say the wrong thing and people would judge me. This unrealistic and near-obsessive anxiety went on for three out of four years.
This year has been great. There aren’t seniors to be scared of because now I am one. Even so, I have come to realize that nobody who was older or graduated really remembers me whatsoever, much less cared if I breathed too loud or walked too fast or sneezed once in math class. I finally understand that people in restaurants and grocery stores are there to help me get what I want, not to judge me. I even started calling out answers in classes. Mostly they’re right, and when they’re wrong no one really cares.
I have finally figured out that I am not below anyone. No one has the right to judge me any more than I have to judge them. In the real world, most people won’t remember what I did in high school. College is a fresh start. A new opportunity to invent myself. I am not going to be afraid of what other people think of me. Instead I will speak my mind, because much more often than I realize, I’m right. My advice to underclassmen is to realize that little high school things do not matter in the real world. Instead of worrying what other people think, focus on having fun being your truest self. Stop caring about whether your clothes are normal. Stop sucking in your stomach. Stop holding in sneezes. Stop being afraid to breathe. Just be you and people can like it or not.