I’m not complaining, I’m just saying: Four years and the lessons I’ve learned
Here are my complaints: The school’s too hot, the school’s too cold, the lunch food is gross, the parking lot is crowded, school is boring, each day should be a block day, we should have three-day weekends and the lunch ladies can stop asking me everyday where I’m going because obviously I’m holding my lunch and heading to the senior courtyard. Oh, I forgot one...people complain too much.
Have you ever just walked through the halls and listened to what people say around you? If not, I highly encourage it. Even though your laughter at the conversation behind you may seem inconspicuous, it can be highly amusing. I have learned so much from observing my surroundings. Now, I say, “observing my surroundings” because eavesdropping is discouraged, and sometimes creepy, but you know you do it too.
In my four years at Hudson High School I have learned how to construct confidence intervals, write a 9-worthy AP essay, study for APES, (it is an AP class after all) produce the morning announcements and many other things. Some I will use in my future, and others I clearly won’t. Yet the most important lesson I have learned is that everything will work out. Complaining will solve your problems temporarily, and believe me, I complain too. But in order to solve whatever it is you’re complaining about, you actually have to do something about it.
Now I don’t mind getting a little personal here because, frankly, I’ve moved on and am ready to leave. My hope is to calm some nerves, provide a little hope and share some secrets that have gotten me through high school.
My freshman year I was sick...a lot. I won’t go too deep into it, but I saw a total of six doctors in three months, changed medicines about every four months, and hated school. Doctors would say they had no idea what was wrong with me and pass me onto other doctors like a hot potato (sorry for the corny simile). Needless to say, I grew extremely frustrated with everyone because all I heard was people saying what was wrong with me. No one knew how to fix me.
I developed anxiety and ultimately became depressed. My grades dropped, I stopped playing softball and field hockey, and I didn’t hang out with any of my friends. It was a long, dark, lonely year for me. Thankfully, a heroic doctor solved my problems and fixed me. I was back to my normal self: bubbly, bright and fun. I tell you this because teen-age depression rates are high, and it might just help you to know that other people get depressed. But they also come out of it. What helped me was just knowing that somehow, someday, things will get better. And they did.
I was never really one for social status but freshman year I was worried about my image. Do people know who I am? How do they think I look? Do boys know who I am? As time progressed, I realized that these types of questions are not healthy for anyone to think and completely unnecessary. They were put in my head by what I see and hear through social media (which is another topic in itself). Honestly, I am completely confident with myself today—I don’t worry what others think of me because they can’t change who I am. But it took some time to get here; don’t think it will happen overnight.
Your image is what you create it to be. You define yourself. So go ahead, have some fun with it; try a new club or talk to new people. I won’t say people aren’t going to judge because that’s how humans are. But don’t think about what they’re thinking. Just...do.
So people complain. It’s not a new finding. However, turning that complaint into something productive just might be. People need to realize that change will happen, so please don’t freak out every time a change occurs. Change is different, it can be good. “Just go with the flow” has recently become one of my mottos.
I’ve noticed this year that every little change has led to a complaint. The hallway passports, the reversed exam schedule last year, and the no grinding policy at dances have been a few “scandals” that have erupted in angry voices. The administration and Principal Brian Wilch did not sit down and think up the Hallway passports so we could reenact “world travel day” from pre-school. This was something that was created to either better our education environment or keep us safe. So what if you need to get a piece of paper signed every time you use the rest room? Is it worth getting that heated up about?
Pick your battles. Hallway passports aren’t a big enough deal to get upset about. Mr. Wilch and the rest of the administration keep our education in mind while making these types of decisions, that is after all the manifest function of school—our education. So instead of complaining, thank them, because Hudson City Schools is one of the brightest and advanced schools in the nation.
Also, complain in retrospect. Yes, we all hyperbolize, “I’m starving” but seriously, if you’re super skinny, please do not whine, “Oh I’m so fat” every time you eat a piece of pizza or something remotely unhealthy.
Complaining will get you nowhere if that’s all you do. If something really bothers you, then figure out a solution. You’re smart. I know you can do it. If a reverse exam schedule honestly won’t work for you, then discuss a solution with a teacher or faculty member. If you must grind at a dance, don’t go. Grinding should not be a deciding factor on whether or not you attend a dance. It’s not worth your time complaining about something you can’t change. If you feel strongly about something you complain about, then take action. Write a letter, begin a petition or address someone of higher authority. We live in a country based on the freedom of speech. So speak!
High school will be a defining time in your life. You mature physically and mentally, you may develop future career plans, you choose a college or other future, and you begin to find things out about yourself. Like me, I realized I’m not afraid of things I can see, it’s the unknown that I’m scared of. Or I don’t do well in large groups and crowded rooms, and I get antsy. These are the years that will be the foundation for your adulthood.
So this is two-sided. Make good decisions because one wrong one (like drinking and driving or other stupid things) can be the last one. Work hard in school. Your grades are important and are essential for college, so don’t slack off. This is actually the reason we go to school, to learn, so make sure you do that. Be active. Participate in after-school activities and really find one you enjoy. Hudson offers so much to us, we just need to take advantage of it. And push yourself. You know your limits, but expand them. I used to be very timid, the quiet back-row student. Oddly enough, I decided to attend the National Student Leadership Conference one summer. I knew no one there and I was going to be in Washington, D.C. by myself for two weeks. Why did I do this? I have no idea, but it was the best two weeks of my life and one of my best decisions because I learned to break out of my shell, be condfident in who I am and make new friends. (If you get a chance to broaden your experience and view of the world like this one, I highly recommend it.)
Yet there is the other side of this too. Have fun. Do not let your grades and studies overtake your four years here. Be a little crazy and test your limits. This is the time where you’re discovering who you are, so discover!
I first heard the song “Four Years” by Jon McLaughlin fall of my freshman year. It is about high school and how the little things don’t matter. He sings, “So feather-weight freshmen hold on, it’s only four years long, then it’s gone, and the queen of the nerds and the king of the prom get a job. Look at them now, she’s living her dreams while he sleeps with his crown, so be cool, be hard, be weird. It’s just four years.” (I recommend you listen to the rest of the song and look at the lyrics. I can’t write them all here.)
While listening, graduation seemed so far away, almost unrealistic. It’s so weird now that it’s only a few days away. Days! How did time go from years to months to weeks to days? Time goes so quickly, so enjoy it. Make the most of what you can because the opportunities you are given are endless. You just need to take them.