High school is not the best time of your life. If it is, then you’re doing life wrong.
Consider studies that suggest people get happier the older they get. So basically that second decade of your life is pretty much the worst time you’ll ever have. Why then do YA writers write about this time period?
I’m very drawn to helping those younger and less experienced than myself. When I was a kid the adult world was terrifying because of it’s unknowns: how does a debit card work? How do you take out a loan? Registering for college? Terrifying! The concept of publishing and the amount of information out there to learn was staggering. That’s why I enjoy being a contributor to LTWF; I get to help other aspiring writers. And in my books I hope to reach out to every teen reader, hoping that they’ll be able to identify with my characters and take something away from my story when they’re done.
Reading was my refuge in high school. I read two books a day if I could help it, in all sorts of genres. High school was such a crappy time in my life that it’s the least I can do to give my readers that same escape hatch.
Here are some of the worst things about high school (for me):
- Having to get up at 5:30AM if I wanted to shower before school, and at 6 if I didn’t. Especially after I learned that teens’ brains don’t stop producing sleep chemicals until about 11AM. And that schools won’t change their schedules to better accommodate this, essentially because of sports. When I heard that the first time I was so mad I was shaking. So you mean the reason I feel so tired and dead inside that I want to cry each morning is because you want to throw a ball around?
- Some boys getting away with sexual harassment in gym class because peer pressure made everyone refuse to testify. Except for me. I was then socially ostracized.
- Teachers who would make political jokes in class. This made me so upset, not because of their opinions, but because it wasn’t fair for an authority figure to abuse their authority like that and silence students who didn’t agree with them.
- Going to the bathroom at school. Gah, was there anything worse than having to use the bathroom at school? So filled with awkwardness.
- Finding out a friend in class was addicted to cocaine and going to NA meetings. We lost touch when I moved and now I can’t find her online. Sometimes I worry she got in deeper and died, and I never called her.
- Finding out one of my good friends was pregnant. Knowing what this would mean for the rest of her life.
- The dread of unfinished homework. Weekends with black clouds looming over my head, knowing there’s something I don’t want to do that I still haven’t done. And then doing it five minutes before class anyway.
- Having to skip back and forth across the gym during PE warmups. I was 6’2 and had large breasts. It was pure humiliation every day. I finally told the gym teacher it hurt my mammaries and then I just did situps >:)
- Getting into religious/political fights with my friends. You love the show Buffy so now you’re a Wiccan who cuts herself to drink her own blood? That’s not freedom of religion, that’s idiotic.
- Acne so bad I thought the word ‘monster’ when I saw myself after looking in the mirror one summer after kind of avoiding mirrors for a few months. Cue years of hiding behind my hair, not meeting anyone’s eyes, and getting my blood drawn every few weeks because the medicine to treat it was so dangerous they had to monitor my liver. Feeling it was worth it anyway.
- Every stupidity being defended just by saying, ‘Well, that’s your opinion.’
But it wasn’t all bad. We didn’t have any significant gang violence in any of my high schools. I never drank or did drugs. And there were some really awesome times:
- Basically inventing ‘video club’ with my BFF so we had an excuse to hang out after school.
- Putting on sunglasses and ear pieces and passing notes in manila files to my BFF in the hallway. Not being able to keep a straight face while doing so.
- After learning one of our teacher’s was afraid of Scream, bringing my Scream mask in the next day and having my friend put it on until the teacher noticed. Hilarity ensued.
- Going to the ‘Cheap Date’ dance and dancing for the first time like I didn’t care who was watching. Or years later, at Homecoming, getting my friends to clear a space in the middle of grinding prep kids and doing the hokie poky while rap music played. Or taking a female friend to a different Homecoming, in a black gown, the first time I felt beautiful. We danced all night, and then later rumors circulated that I was a lesbian, so… that one I guess is fifty-fifty.
- Going to a student journalism convention in San Diego and winning the top award for Feature writing. As a freshman. My teacher had a cake brought in to celebrate.
- Inventing a new subculture movement to combat gothic kids. I called it Anglo, and it meant dressing all in white and silver and doing community service. In case you haven’t noticed, it didn’t really catch on.
- Filming a parody to the Blair Witch Project called the Hair Witch Project, over the course of 24 hours, with my two BFFs during the summer. The last summer before I left Washington.
I don’t have the original screenshot anymore, just this with some text tags to explain what’s happening to friends. I’m playing the character of Ike (Mike), my BFF is playing the character of Hash (Josh), and she is biting me for a reason I now forget.
- Winning the award for scariest story in Creative Writing class during Halloween. One girl almost puked.
- Going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on a Friday night with my group of friends, everyone dressed up and carrying props. I had a sore throat afterwards from singing and yelling, but didn’t care in the slightest.
- Being published for the first time in TeenInk, a literary magazine for teenagers. I was alone in the house when I got the news, so I jumped up and down, screaming, “I got published!!” Later realizing that I couldn’t let anyone find out because the article I’d written compared my new town to Stepford, and criticized some of my neighbors by name.
- Going out with my sister at night to place plastic forks in a neighbor’s yard. This is called ‘forking’. Mom knew, but never told on us. She thought it was funny, too.
- Mom helping me dye my hair blue while dad was out of town. Mom later helping me dye my hair brown (it came out red), just to see what it was like.
So yeah, there were some good times. Some isolated, shining moments of fun and happiness. But pretty much the rest of the time sucked. I was the tallest female in school, never felt entirely comfortable wherever I was, and bruised my head against some of society’s stupider rules. But it got better. Adulthood is so much better than being a teen; I’d recommend it to anyone.
What were your best and worst moments in high school?