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My Story for Everyone Else

Rhiannon Thomalla and Evie Brady

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(The following story is a compilation of the experiences of many members of the class of 2017.)

All through high school you hear about the kids who go above and beyond the usual expectations. From star athletes to the academic overachievers, certain students just seem to get all the recognition. Week in and week out, it’s always the same faces on the local news or featured in the newspaper. Sometimes you have to wonder if anyone else even goes to East.

What about the rest of us? We make up the majority of the school, but we aren’t seen as high-performance athletes, outstanding intellectuals, or the greatest musicians of all time. We are your everyday kids, your average students. We’re the group that spends its years experiencing the ups and downs of high school in the shadow of those elite few who seem to have this high school thing down.

The story of my high school years begins with the first day of my freshman year. As I stepped through the doors of East High, the sheer number of people was overwhelming. The noise. The heat. The excited friends. I immediately began searching for familiar faces. My eyes scanned the crowd when I caught sight of the one person who was sure to help me – my brother. I pushed through his group of friends, just to hear him say the two words that set the tone for the rest of my high school experience – “Go away.”

The first few months of my freshman year sucked. Everyday felt like a new opportunity for the kids and teachers to bully me. Not a day would go by without hearing “Hey fresh meat;” from at least one upperclassman. There was that one teacher whose class I could do nothing right in. The days were long, but the nights were longer. Between the seemingly endless stream of homework and studying for countless exams, I never felt that I could get ahead.

In the middle of all of my struggles, I sought acceptance through extracurricular activities. I decided to start with something familiar. I had played volleyball all through elementary and middle school. I thought it would be perfect, but I was wrong. As soon as the tryouts started, I knew I had made a mistake. The teams were already chosen, the girls were already friends, and I was alone again. I made the decision to try out for track because at the end of the year, I still hadn’t found my niche. Being on the team was fun because I loved the coach, but all my teammates seemed to think all I was good for was carrying their stuff.

After the disappointment of my freshman year, I went into my sophomore year just looking to fit in. I did everything I could to fit the mold, from wearing certain clothes, to changing my entire personality. But bullying still reigned as a constant in my life. Things went from bad to worse. The group of girls who had teased me since grade school was still around and their teasing had escalated into pushing me into lockers and dumping chocolate milk all over me and my things.  All I wanted to do was fit in, but instead I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. I officially ruled it as being one of my worst years ever.

My junior year marked the beginning of my independence. I was finally an upperclassman, with my own car and free to leave campus for lunch. My new found freedom came at a cost though, as this was the start of serious responsibilities. From the ACT to college planning, I was suddenly responsible for my own future. Despite the constant lectures from my parents and teachers, I still managed to blow off these responsibilities every chance I had.

This year brought with it many firsts. It was the year that introduced me to the first class that I was truly passionate about. For me, it was a way to express myself and find the group I fit with, and my teacher motivated me to do my best and helped me get out of my comfort zone.

My junior year was also the first year that I attended prom. I thought prom would be magical, the kind of thing you see in all of the movies. You know, Cinderella and Prince Charming and all that stuff.  I was determined to have it that way. The cute boy and all. That’s when I finally mustered up the courage to ask my crush to go with me. I put together the cutest promposal, and everything was going great, or so I thought. As I was walking over to him, one of his friends stopped me and, yet again, kick to the face. I still remember the way the words sounded as they left his mouth -“he’s got a girlfriend.” I was heartbroken. I thought maybe prom was the one thing that would actually go right for me. I was wrong yet again.

Senior year – the one I had been waiting for since day one. It was supposed to be the best year ever, and, in a way, it was. I didn’t go to the infamous parties, or stand front row at all of the games, but with the bad, there was good. I made some of my closest friends. I was finally receiving recognition for the effort I had put in over the last three years. This was the year that I finally found myself. I decided where I wanted to go to college. I found a job that I loved, and the job helped me decide what I wanted to do for a career. It was the year that I finally felt like everything was falling into place for me. I wasn’t drowning anymore. I had my head above water, and I was starting to figure out this crazy thing called life. I was finally happy.

I didn’t peak in high school. There were always those kids who had it all figured out. Everyone knew and loved them. They had a big circle of friends. They had teachers who greeted them by name in the halls. They were the elite. But what about the rest of us? We might not have been as “famous” as some of our classmates, but somehow we still came out okay. We found our niche in theatre or art or ROTC, and the friends that we made in these clubs gave us more sense of belonging than being nominated for any homecoming court.

These last four years may not have been the best years of my life, but they have given me hope for the future. Looking back, I am thankful for the experiences in high school. They helped me find myself and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As I say goodbye to high school, I’m saying hello to college and looking forward to what life holds for me. For once, the future doesn’t seem so scary. I’ve got this.

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My Story for Everyone Else