Celebrities appear on bright, shiny screens and tell you it'll get better: the bullying, boredom and all-around nightmare that is high school.
Like many teens, my experience wasn't fantastic. Between my small group of friends being labeled "The Plastics" after "Mean Girls," to a poster my friend had put up in the halls in celebration of my birthday that ended up in the boy's urinal, I've weathered it all.
High school was the kind of place that punished to the utmost degree for a short skirt while ignoring the racial and/or homophobic slurs that flew down its hallways on the regular. This remains a place we rely on heavily to shape our youth.
I wasn't unhappy; throughout these events, I had a deep-rooted confidence that served me well, and with every event, my skin grew tougher. I coped with the hard times by remembering that although my high school was often like a bad MTV movie, it wasn't forever.
So, yes everyone, it does get better. When I got to college, I was unsure. Thankful that I hadn't ended up in a dorm, I made the tiny, hot room in my second floor apartment my own.
Soon, it was home and the smell of my mom's grilled vegetables and hum of the nightly news became replaced by my roommate's almost-nightly instant mac and cheese and the cadences of "Pretty Little Liars" episodes.
Here are a few things I learned throughout my college years that I was thankful to experience:
Taking classes on subjects you love brings you to the people you'll love.
For the first time, I wasn't dragging ass through English classes I could have aced in my sleep. My politics professor had given up a career as a diplomat to teach us, and my journalism professor served as the editor of a local paper when he wasn't teaching.
Suddenly, group projects weren't the bane of my existence because masochistic teachers weren't dictating group work, and when I did work with people, they were just as interested in the subject matter as I was.
We'd all chosen to be there, and as the result of this newfound ability to freely decide where I wanted to spend my days, I made the best friends anyone could ask for.
Whatever was holding you back no longer exists.
In high school, the way I witnessed people react to me, my friends and my thoughts inhibited my motivation to go the extra mile. I was a liberal girl in a cow town, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.
For a time, it supressed my interactions with others; instead of being open just to be snubbed, I'd speak down to peers before they had the opportunity. I now call this the "Fat Amy" effect, and homegirl had a solid system going on.
In college, you can truly remake yourself. In my case, I was able to realign my behaviors with who I truly was because there was no longer a reason to stay on the defense.
I was safe to say what was on my mind, and even in large lectures boasting 100 different viewpoints on any given topic, I could say what I felt without backlash and know that it would be tolerated, if not respected.
Whoever you were in high school won't be who you are in the real world.
Maybe you love who you are or were in high school and that's great, but if you're one of the many people who has struggled during this time, college is the starting point for the new, legitimate you.
Be that person, no holds barred, and "your people" will come in droves. I have black friends, white friends, straight friends, gay friends, trans friends, conservative friends, liberal friends; they are all amazing people, a quality of which I didn't know existed until college.
Wear what you want; say what you want; do what you want. This is your life. High school was your crisis management training. College is your beginning.
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