High School Lessons: Putting Yourself First is Necessary and Normal

Authenticity is the name of the game. You hear it being thrown around all the time,“Be yourself.” Whether you hear it as a little child learning to make friends, a new student entering a school of completely unfamiliar sights and faces, a fresh-out-of-college graduate in the waiting room for that important interview, or at whatever stage it may be, this principle of authenticity timelessly applies. In our every interaction and investment in our social lives, we must remember to be ourselves.

To be authentic is to live a life of comfort in and with yourself. To be able to feel the things you feel without doubt or question. To be able to express these feelings to whomever you choose to. To be able to love whomever you choose with no fear of judgment from others. To stand in the face of prejudice and of those inevitable haters and say to them, shoulders held back and chin held high,“K.”

To do what you love because you can’t go more than a day of being away from the cause you love working for and the people you love working with. To be able to Tweet that thought or Instagram that picture without the need in the back of your head for praise, but to post simply because you just want to share your life.

To accept where you come from and who you’ve been with. To let yourself fall apart when you need to, and to let yourself go wild when you want to. To live the life you want to live, to let the people you want to share your life with in, and to leave the unneeded luggage and trash out behind you.

It is this ability to fully and fearlessly accept not only yourself and what you do, but also what you feel and how you feel, that I believe will allow you to live a life of happiness, and eventually of success.

Even though being yourself is so important, why is it that high schoolers feel an odd pressure to become someone that isn’t truly them? Is it the odd social hierarchy that exists in, literally, every single high school or is it the mechanisms of favoritism and selectiveness in every classroom? Is it what’s getting the most retweets on Twitter Feeds or is it the Instagram posts with the most likes and most appreciating and praising of comments? What is the source of this pressure that teenagers in high school feel that makes us change who we really are?

I want answers because I have seen too many times people losing themselves over these confusing and damaging four years. I’ve seen friends take AP and Honors classes they have no interest in just because their friends are in all advanced classes. I’ve heard friends complain about going to practice for a team they don’t even care about anymore. I’ve witnessed events for clubs fall through because people lost their will to care, to try, and contribute. I’ve comforted friends who have been in relationships that thrive off old memories and obligation. I’ve seen people pretend to like the music that’s in the current hype just so they have a reason to Tweet and feel like they’re relevant.

How many times do I have to change myself until the new me becomes the real me, or how long to I have to hold out until it’ll be all okay?

These questions lead to one point: priority. We need to prioritize ourselves. However you have to, you need to prioritize your needs, your goals, and your life. We enter high school with expectations, and we are continued to be hit with even dumber things like popularity, academic competition, relationships and rejection, so much failure, and everything else that serves to beat us down.

Putting yourself first in how you carry yourself in high school means putting up a safeguard from all the stupidness that tries to bring you down. Prioritizing yourself and living the life you want to live is what will make all the difference.

Prioritizing yourself is your lifeline for when you begin to lose who you are, what you love, and what you do. It will take you where you need to be and will assure you of your brilliance and awesomeness. It will make your years just a little bit better; you’ll find your homies for life, you’ll find what you love doing, and you’ll feel so, so good each day. It will be your reminder that it’s okay to feel how you feel, to feel as mad or as happy or as sad or as passionate or as confused as you may be.

It will be your reminder that you are worth every moment you have in high school, so be the person you are in enjoying every step of the way.