I’m a junior in high school.
Yes, I know, you’re expecting a teary-eyed teenage girl complaining about stress and drama and rumors and sex. You came to the wrong place for that. I’m sixteen years old. I’m turning seventeen in four months. School, for me, just started on August 1st. It is now August 30th and I’m about to break down.
And I’m not the only one. I never hear about gossip and friends anymore. All I hear are my friends and acquaintances telling me, and each other that they’re so stressed out, and how they cried themselves to sleep last night, how our English teacher assigned a 4-6 page narrative that’s due at the end of the week but they have a project in History that’s due on Friday.
I hear their voices. Telling the teachers how they think things should be done. Telling the teachers how stressed they are. Telling the teachers how much pressure they have at home to get good decent grades. Some of them listen but it hasn’t gotten any better.
I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m sitting here, on my bed – supposed to be doing my English homework – asking for your ears to listen and for your head to nod in understanding.
I have been recognized, academically, by the administrators to be in National Honor Society. Great, right? My grades sit on low B’s. My lowest is an 84% in English. Every night, I lie in bed and drill myself with questions like:
“Do you even want to graduate?”
“Do you even want to go to college?”
“Are you even trying, you stupid piece of shit?” (excuse my french)
I see that there are many people here who would like to sit me down and tell me, “You think your problems are bad? What about mine?” Or, “High School was easy! You just need to stop being so lazy!”
I shouldn’t be this tired at the end of the first month of school. I shouldn’t be this tired at SIXTEEN YEARS OLD! I get excited over 6 hours of sleep, when I’m supposed to get 9. I get excited over two-hour delays, even though the days seem longer. I get excited for weekends, even though it’s only two days but at least I can get some sleep. I’m counting down the days until Fall Break on October 5th – October 13th, (35 days). I’m counting down the days until Winter Break on December 23rd – January 3rd, (115 days).
I should be counting down the days until I graduate but I don’t know whether some days will be canceled due to snow or breaks that I’m unaware of.
I think about college every day. I ask myself, “what the hell am I going to do as soon as I graduate? What then? What next?” I still only have a learner’s permit, so I can’t drive, I’m not allowed to get a job because my parents want my total focus to be on school, therefore, I can’t earn any money. I DON’T EVEN HAVE A CELL PHONE. IT IS SO HARD FOR ME TO COMMUNICATE WITH FRIENDS! WHO EVEN USES GMAIL ANYMORE? MY BOYFRIEND WON’T EVEN EMAIL ME BACK BECAUSE HE WORKS 9 HOURS AT TACO BELL EVERY DAY EXCEPT FOR THURSDAYS AND FRIDAYS.
When I went into seventh grade, I told my BEST friend, Chloe that – when we got older, we’d have SO many friends. We would go to the mall every month to hang out or buy cute clothes. When we could drive, we would get in a car and drive away and never come back. We would get Starbucks EVERY MORNING, (not thinking about how much that would affect us financially). We were going to live in Florida, and then Michigan, and then in Britain. We fantasized about having cute British boyfriends or even a boyfriend in general. We pulled all-nighters and wrote One Direction fan fiction, listened to Ke$ha, ate whatever the hell we wanted at 2 AM, and we didn’t care.
Most of the time, when I walk into the Musical Theater classroom, Chloe walks in moments after, immediately sits down and finishes her homework. She tells me that she has a D in Algebra and that all the rest of her grades are C’s. She tells me how her parents are going to make her quit working at Subway if her grades get too bad. She tells me that her parents forced her to break up with her boyfriend, who she’s liked for five years … I still can’t forget the feeling in my chest when she told me that she wanted to die and that she wanted to kill herself. I had never heard those words escape her lips ever. She was the one that ignored me for two days when I tried to cut myself! She tells me how tired she is, how she didn’t get to sleep until midnight. She tells me that she’s stupid, how she won’t get to graduate with me like we’d always dreamed. She told me that she would never get out of this stupid town if this was going to continue to happen.
I barely get to talk to her anymore. We don’t call, we can’t text, we haven’t slept over at each other’s houses … it’s not the same.
We dreamed of happiness. We wrote down a list of accomplishments we’d fly past in High School but I celebrate over a B. My parents don’t. My mom goes up to me, telling me that she went and looked at my grades. How my grade just went down in Algebra II Honors and English 11 Honors. She told me,
“Get those B’s up! If you need any help, just ask me!”
And I know she’s trying to help but … I want to do this all on my own and so far, that isn’t working.
I’m in 11th grade! I’m not even a senior yet! I have panic attacks at 2 AM, I cry over stress, my friends and I relate over other people wishing to kill themselves, and since when have I wanted to kill myself? I never want to kill myself! But I don’t particularly like the life I am living right now.
I wanted to go out at night with my friends and laugh, and joke, and be free. I wanted to drive on the highway with my sister and sing along to the radio. I wanted to graduate at the TOP OF MY CLASS, but that’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
And I’ve always WANTED to be the smart kid. I never got that. I’m aware that’s not good of me to say, but … we all have wanted it, right?
I still feel like a robot in a capitalist society. I wake up at 5:30, I get ready to go to school, I get on the bus full of little kids who annoy the shit out of me, I go to school, I work on school, I go home on that same bus, I get home, eat something completely unhealthy out of stress, go to my room, CONTINUE on school for the rest of the evening, and get to sleep around 11 PM – 12 AM. That gives me 5-6 hours of sleep almost every day. On weekends, I wake up at 11 AM. I get to sleep at midnight.
My life is a never ending cycle. This isn’t what I wanted. I wanted to spend my high school career having fun, going to football games with friends, laughing … and instead, I feel like a robot.
This may be irrelevant to you. You might not want to read through this because I’m just a high school girl, right?
I feel like a sixteen-year-old girl with the exhaustion of a man who just got back from war, only to arrive back at the war ground the next day, and every day after that.
My parents say, “don’t wish your life away! You have so much ahead of you, and if you wish for the next day, or the next week, or the next few months … soon enough, you’ll be lying in bed, dying – asking yourself where the years went.”
I feel like I’ve been in the same childlike/teenage like body and experience for thousands of year. I’m waiting for change. I’m waiting for an “a-ha!” moment. I’m waiting for that time when I can look at myself in the mirror and like what I see.
B’s may not be bad grades, a public high school may not be that terrifying, and high school may not last that long – but this isn’t what I wanted when I walked through those doors for the first time. Because let me tell you, I vividly remember when I walked through the entrance on the first day of 7th grade. I stopped mid-step, took in a deep breath, and smiled.
I want to see the day where I can walk out the exit, with a green/yellow robe and cap, take that same breath, and smile.
I want to be there with my best friend. I want to be able to take those bff-graduation-goal pictures and get 20-60 likes on it. I want my parents to hug me and say, “I knew you could do it! I’m so proud of you!”
Maybe that’s my motivation, but this should NOT be the path I’m taking in order to get there.