“The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out…”

Don’t worry, this isn’t the story of the gruesome removal of my wisdom teeth, though I did get them out two weeks ago…Anyway, this is the story of the beginning of the rest of my life(aka after high school). These past three months have been joyful and festive, but now reality has hit.

The green grass of summer is fading to a dried brown color and the cicadas are roaring outside. It’s late August; the end of summer. Around this time I usually think about going back to school and getting ready for my classes, but this year is different: i’m starting college

People I’ve gone to school with are moving into their dorm rooms, thus moving into their new lives. Friend, foe, or just someone I talked to about homework…they’re all leaving. And I’m staying here. Graduation was a blur of excitement and happiness; for years I’d imagined the moment and in my mind, I couldn’t see past the glistening green and white caps and gowns. It seemed as thoughthat moment would never come, so I never imagined life afterwards in much detail.

I made the decision to reject four-year colleges, and go for the scholars program at my local community college to save money. Sure, I can imagine myself doing many things, but I haven’t pinpointed exactly what that is yet. Maybe I’ll go for journalism, and fulfill my vision of working for Entertainment Weekly…or maybe I’ll study languages and work for the foreign service so I can spend my life traveling the world. Everyone else seemed pretty certain what they wanted to do, which I just can’t understand. How can you spend your life cloistered in a suburb, with the same vain people influencing you to conform to their shitty expectations. How can you know what you want to do with your life when you don’t even know yourself?

I live in a pretty wealthy area, even though my family is far from it. I grew up around money, but my family didn’t have much. I wouldn’t say we were poor, but money was always a worry. While my classmates drove brand-new Range Rovers I drove a 12-year old Camery. While my friends sent their regards from the Italian Riviera, my family were just happy to be able to spend three days in a crappy motel at a Delaware beach…and that’s okay. I know that I didn’t have it that bad and all, but when you’re around extreme wealth like that it really makes you feel a little envious…and excluded.

If you didn’t have the money to wave around for show, you couldn’t be in the “in” crowd. It made me retreat back into myself like I never had before. I rarely did any extra-curriculars because I knew that any form of rejection from my peers would crush me. I’d already had low self-esteem, but it was brought to a new extreme with High School. I’d had a really big group of friends in middle school, and I stuck with the ones who weren’t changed by the toxic nature of my new school, but I was afraid to really talk to anyone that I didn’t know before.

A cloud of anxiety seemed to follow me everywhere I went; I was so afraid that people were talking about me that I just wanted to be out of the school as soon as possible. But in reality, no one probably talked to me, because I never dared make my presence known. Now, this sounds like I had no friends, when I in fact had many. I had my middle school friends, and a selection of people which I had felt comfortable enough to talk to. I wanted to be myself, but I also didn’t want to be judged for it, so I only opened up to people I could be sure would accept me. Actually I met my best friend the summer before high school at Volleyball camp, and she knows me better than any friend I have ever had.

So what’s the problem with having a nice little group of friends? The answer is that I let my insecurites hold me back from things I wanted to do. I was so afraid that I couldn’t really live my life. I’m actually a very friendly person. It’s funny that I’ll strike up a random conversation with a person on the street, but I wouldn’t dare talk to the person sitting next to me in class unless I had to. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to be afraid. I know so many assholes from high school, if they can show their true (ugly) colors and have tons of friends, why can’t I? Why not me? I don’t want to be afraid to take a chance. Like Stephen Jenkins says “follow your direction no matter where it goes.” I’m going to follow my direction, and I’m going to find Mer.

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