Or shall I say…
Dear Class of 2021 onwards, … or is it backwards?
I’m writing to you because I have a book and/or movie recommendation. Also, I’d like to reflect on my high school experience briefly and impart some “wisdom”, if you will, if that’s okay.
High school is… What is high school?
Well, maybe this explains it:
Some may refer to high school as the worst, most stressful four years of one’s life. Others may refer to high school as the most rewarding four years of one’s life. Parents, or my mom at least, look back on their high school experiences and wish they’d treasured or cherished it far more than they did at the time.
As an introvert-ambivert (don’t know which one I am though most will likely say that I’m an introvert) and a bohemian of sorts, I tend to stray from partaking or attending most social gatherings school-wise unless I’m part of the committee. Truth be told, my interests and way of governing my own life don’t conform with those around me, hence my being a bohemian.
For years, I have been trying to not be such an introvert or as reticent, but it’s easier said than done, though the ball’s completely in my court. I simply prefer to observe and I enjoy solitude and immersing myself into a multitude of worlds aka novels. I don’t like being the center of attention or attracting any attention towards myself to be quite frank.
One may define this as being a wallflower, but I don’t believe that I am a wallflower.
A wallflower is a person who has an introverted personality or may even suffer from a social/anxiety disorder in some cases and it typically refers to those who attend gatherings, but will stay off to the side and act as an onlooker or mere observer.
A notable wallflower is Charlie from Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was then adapted onto the big screen in 2012, featuring Paul Rudd, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller to list a few of the actors in the film.
Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age epistolary novel or in other words, it’s a coming-of-age novel that is written in the form of letters. It revolves around Charlie, a shy freshman in high school, who learns firsthand how you cannot live your life while trying to run away from it. He learns a handful of rewarding and sometimes harsh lessons in life. The same applies to all, if not most, high schoolers and extends beyond one’s school years.
Some lessons were as follows:
“ Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know
most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
He’s shy. He’s a wallflower. He’s socially awkward. He’s a wallflower. He’s introspective. He’s a wallflower.
I would also like to do the impossible of attempting to at least lessen, if not obliterate, the stigma of introverts being lonely, miserable, and depressed amongst other things. The same applies to wallflowers, though one cannot say that all introverts are wallflowers, but wallflowers are all – to an extent – introverts.
For some, it is a deliberate choice or rather a preference to be introspective and preferring solitude and getting lost in novels or books more than the real world. For some, however, it’s an escape or a way to protect themselves… For some, it’s out of their control.
I don’t want to make this commentary directly about me, but I will say one thing on my own behalf. Simply because I’m quiet and live largely in my books when not in class, that doesn’t necessarily constitute my falling into a downward spiral or depression.
To be an introvert or wallflower or a bohemian even… To be anyone who deviates from what’s “cool” is to either be ignored or often not be approached willingly by others. Charlie, realizing this, put himself through the wringer and started smoking and essentially began to experiment with what most teenagers do for the sake of being “cool.” For the sake of experimenting for the sake of exposure or out of curiosity, I can respect and understand that. I don’t judge either way, but it is far more respectable when one does things out of their own free will rather than doing something to conform with the views of others and thus becoming a victim of peer pressure, to an extent.
As one who is introspective and somewhat shy and perhaps even socially awkward around those my age due to my different interests, I was able to relate to Charlie. Outside of smoking and doing what others my age do (not necessarily limited to AIS) to “fit in”, that is.
My freshman and sophomore years of high school were far more enjoyable than I thought they’d be and they flew by rather fast now that I think about it. My junior year thus far is enjoyable and just as rewarding, if not more-so, but it’s also a bit more stressful for various reasons (ex. thinking about college applications, etc.). However, each year is a bit more stressful than the one before understandably.
I can’t speak for all students at AIS, but there are a handful of individuals who take getting an education for granted. Perhaps I also have, unknowingly, even though I love acquiring new information and/or broadening my scope. I am a lover of knowledge, but there must have been times when I disliked the rigidity of a particular curriculum.
So, to current 8th graders entering high school in September, treasure these final years. They fly by faster than you think.
High school is… frustrating, rewarding, challenging, consuming, stressful, etc.
Simply put, and perhaps this is an overused analogy, but high school, like life, is like a roller coaster. It’s chock full of ups and downs and sharp turns. It’s hard to accept sometimes.
Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that life isn’t a straight or direct path.
It’s not this or that.
It’s this and that.
It can’t always go your way, no matter how hard you plan or work towards your goals.
You can’t cheat or avoid enduring tough, stressful, taxing, etc. times.
To the Class of 2021, 2022, … high school is like a subway ride. Through all its ups and downs, smooth stretches, and bumpy curves, with people we care for, and others, well, not so much, all the while gaining speed, taking in scenery, sounds, information, light even while going through the darkest tunnel.
C’est la vie.
So ist das Leben.
Such is life.
Maya Abou El Nasr