A matter of perspective

Authenticity can only be achieved by changing one’s priorities


When I first walked through the doors of SHS back in 2015 as a freshman, I had no idea what or who I would come across in my four years at this school. Of course, I had typical ideals and plans that I had envisioned and thought about constantly. But as my high school career nears its end, it’s clear to me that the way these past four years have played out doesn’t even come close to matching up with what I had originally planned.

Most of my plans had to do with things that I would accomplish and what I would be known for at this school. I remember I wanted to break the school record for most stolen bases or most home runs hit in a season when softball rolled around. I wanted to be surrounded by all of these incredibly popular people and wanted to have a good reputation with all of them with hopes that it would make me more popular in the long run. I would always feel pressured to be a part of all of these hyped up things such as school dances or activities outside of school that everyone made a big deal about and eventually I started worrying about what I wore to school and how I looked or appeared to others constantly. I’d even find myself doing things such as second guessing posting a picture on Instagram because I was afraid not enough people were going to like it. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Now as an 18-year-old “adult,” I look back on some of the things that my 14-year-old self thought were vitally important and realize that none of those things were even remotely close to being important at all. I was trying to find myself and I figured high school would show me how, and it did, just in a different way than I had expected. If high school has taught me anything, it’s been the ability to find myself authentically and see what is truly important and what truly matters.

When I would post a picture on Instagram and get a decent amount of likes on that particular picture, yeah, it boosted my ego a little bit. But that “happiness” I was feeling didn’t last long at all because it wasn’t genuine.

Several people look for happiness in pointless, materialistic things, especially in high school. But I’m here to tell you, those things don’t matter nearly as much as they are made out to. It wasn’t until I stopped caring about those things that I discovered the things that truly do matter and make me genuinely happy. And I can tell you right now, it’s not likes on an Instagram picture.

I find genuine happiness within the way I treat others and by simply surrounding myself with people and things who make me happy. When I finally stopped caring about superficial high school elements, I was able to let go and completely be myself. I wear what I want, listen to whatever music I want, I stand by what I believe in whether or not everyone else agrees with me. I hang out with who I want. I take people for who they are and give them a chance rather than instantly shadowing them off based on what others think of them, choosing to love them as they are. I post what I want without a care in the world to how many likes I get on whatever I put out there, and I can’t describe how good and refreshing all of that feels.

I found genuine happiness when I realized that what matters in high school and in life in general is not what other people think of me, it’s what I think about myself and if I’m content with the person that I am towards others.

When I’m 35 years old, I’m 99.99% positive that I’m not going to be dwelling on the fact that I only got 275 likes on a picture I posted that I was banking on getting over 300 on, and most people won’t either. In five-10 years, no one is going to care that you didn’t dress up for pajama day, no one is going to care that you had a crush on that one “weird” kid, no one is going to care that you didn’t wear name brand clothing, no one. However, people will care what kind of a person you were and the impression you made on them by the way you treated them and others. So why not make an authentic, genuine impression? If there’s anything you strive to be remembered for, be remembered for being kind to others and always knowing that you stayed true to yourself.

You can’t be yourself when you’re disguising parts of yourself with elements desired by others. Being yourself and investing your time into the people and things that you genuinely love is the key to finding both yourself and true happiness.