Let’s be real: high school is hard. There’s no other way to put it. You’re traveling in a pack from anywhere between four and fourteen years, and then all of a sudden, you graduate and you’re seemingly alone. In high school, there’s a big “go with the flow” pack-type mentality, where you pretty much act the way your friends want and expect you to act. It’s not easy to be yourself in an environment where people can be so judgemental of differences and have such strict expectations of who you’re supposed to be.

Here’s where the good comes in: it gets easier. From everything I’ve seen, people care a lot less in college. In fact, you really start to find people who are like you and share similar interests, and you really don’t interact or acknowledge the people who you don’t get along well with. Personally, I’ve been making amazing friends who really get who I am and meeting so many people that I’m learning so many interesting things from (quick shoutout to all the people who have volunteered to teach me advanced Adobe programming techniques!). 

However, there can be a major factor that changes this positive experience: What happens if you don’t really know who you are? If you’ve only been in one environment your whole life, how do you present and carry yourself authentically with an entirely new group of people? Is the person everyone knew in high school the real you or was that just high school you? I’ve noticed quite a few people having this existential crisis, which has unfortunately caused them some issues in making friends and finding their place in the greater campus community. 

While college is a place for people to find their community, it’s also a place for people to find themselves. Yet, you don’t have to wait until college if you don’t already have a natural sense of your identity. 

In high school, I would get nervous about what other people thought of me, like most teenagers, but I was a little more shameless than most about deviating from the norm of the group. Then I faced some tough times, I lost some friends and even lost my way a bit, and was forced to reconsider who I was and who I wanted to be. 

It didn’t happen overnight, but I eventually became more confident with who I was, and really started to not care about what anyone else thought. Blogging helped reinforce my new concept of self-identity, and so did a change in my mindset. I set the foundations for this change in my senior year of high school and came into my own as soon as I started college. 

Let me say, it feels amazing, and I’ve been getting amazing opportunities every time I turn around because I’m more confident with my identity and ideas (and the people surrounding me can tell). If I had silently abided by what people thought I should be, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today, and I wouldn’t be as far along in my blogging and college career as I am.

High school can present a strange social environment, and as you get closer and closer to graduation, your peers will start to get weirder. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but everyone starts to get tired of the same old high school drama and environment and starts to get antsy about leaving for college, and with that, the rest of their lives. Soon enough, you’ll be out on your own, and you’ll have to be your own person. The good thing is, the drama and expectations are temporary, and you likely won’t have to revisit any of it once you move on from the halls of your high school.

However, you will have to be comfortable with who you are well beyond any graduation date. My advice at this point? Listen to what’s in your heart and soul, and pursue your callings. If you have a deep desire to dress or act a certain way, don’t be afraid. Embrace what you feel is calling you, and never stop doing what makes you the happiest. 

It’s almost guaranteed that you will change as life goes on. Your path in life will not be completely straight and without obstacles, but staying true to your innermost self—whatever that self is at the time—will certainly help you face the challenges life presents.