Today was freshman orientation day at my son’s school. We walked in this morning and were welcomed by complete chaos. Teenagers were running everywhere and music was playing loudly throughout the gymnasium.
It was much more comparable to a party than a school setting. I assume this was to make the kids’ first day in 9th grade enjoyable. What it really was though was a fashion show for the girls and a macho competition for the guys. In other words, there were just a bunch of masks running around trying to find their place.
High school can be great or miserable, depending on who you are. Everyone wants to fit in and some will go to great lengths to do so. I spoke with a girl the other day, who before entering high school, had made a list of everything she had to do in order to become the popular “movie-type” girl. From the clothes she wore to the way she talked, she mastered every aspect and actually succeeded in pulling it off. She fooled everyone into thinking that she was someone else, but she could never fool herself. So, where did it get her? No where. She soon found that she much more preferred just being herself than a made-up version of someone else.
That’s what I saw this morning; made-up people. It’s sad that kids feel they have to be someone else just to fit in. This one guy in particular was doing the macho “I’m tough. Don’t mess with me” walk. Why? Do guys really have to prove that they are tough in order to be cool?
On a side note – why on earth do guys walk around holding themselves? Are they afraid of losing ‘something’? Please, for the sake of everyone around you, if you do this – stop. It is not attractive. It’s rather disgusting honestly.
Okay, back on the subject. It’s a shame that guys find themselves getting into trouble just to be cool. It’s not cool and it leads no where.
Then, you have the girls. This morning was their self-promoting opportunity. With their clothes or lack there of, they were determined to make a name for themselves. Women are beautiful. They don’t have to flaunt their stuff for their beauty to be seen. The reason they do this is because of the magazines, television shows and numerous billboards they see everyday. This is why there is so much depression and anorexia among teenage girls. They are simply trying to become the girl that they believe they have to be.
While watching the kids this morning, I found comfort in those who seemingly had no inhibitions. They weren’t all dressed up and were not trying to show face, but they still had their heads held up high. That to me is what it should be. It’s an old saying but true, “It’s not what’s on the outside that counts. It’s what’s on the inside.” To prove that, some of the best looking people in my high school are now the most unattractive.
The fact is, that looks will fade and that goes for everyone. What won’t fade is what lies within a person. These qualities are what make us who we are. These are the traits that we will be remembered for. You’re not going to be remembered for your Eddie Bauer shirt or your tough demeanor, but people will remember what you did for them and who you were…on the inside.
I feel for the kids in school. I remember how tough it was trying to fit in. I also remember where trying to fit in got me. Many bad choices were made for that very reason. Unfortunately, it is the decisions made in high school that are most likely to follow a person into adulthood. It’s not a time to be taken lightly, but sadly most people do. Its a game for them, just like it was for me. But, the game doesn’t come for free.
As I stood there with my son, I was so grateful that he doesn’t care about those things. Just the fact that he let me, his Mom, stand there with him in a gymnasium filled with his peers speaks volumes. My hope is that he remains pure throughout high school and doesn’t allow the pressure to influence him to be someone he is not.
I feel for teens these days. Being a teenager is tough!
Image really is everything. Even back in my day you were still judged by the Levis jeans and Nike tennis shoes that you wore. I was not fortunate enough to have those. Eventually I did get the shoes but not for fashion purposes. I used them for sports. Somehow I never fit into any clique in school. I played in the marching band, was captain of the track team, hung out with goth kids in the morning, got invited to all the popular kids parties and took the AP and honors classes with all the geeks. I did treat everyone fairly and with respect and I expected the same from everyone else. I didn’t care about fitting in only to be the best person I could be every day. Somehow I managed to transcend the stereotypes so that no one looked down to me. Being the genuine article certainly has it’s advantages and it’s only later on in life that you reap the rewards.
It is wonderful that you were able to remain yourself during school and not allow the pressure of those around you to change who you were. You’re right that the advantages of doing so show up later in life. Unlike many others, you probably didn’t have to go through the agony of trying to figure out who you were. Pretending to be someone else has a way of even confusing the pretender.
It really is much tougher these days with image and social media for kids!
OM, how nice it is to see you on one of my posts. 🙂 Thank you. Social media – that opens up a whole other realm of discussion. As if life wasn’t already difficult enough. Now there’s social media.