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A lil conversation with my lil sis
Yesterday, my little sister, Amanda, and I had a pretty epic conversation about high school. Let me capture the essence of what she said as well as expand my own thoughts based on hers.
High school can be summed up in one word: desperate. People are desperate, but we don’t know what we’re desperate for. All we know is that we’re desperate to keep people from knowing that we’re desperate. Probably the most humiliating thing in the world for a high schooler is if someone discovers what we’re desperate for. Desperation implies wanting, and wanting implies humanity – but who wants to appear human in a world that can be so inhumane?
What people don’t understand is that wanting something is beautiful because it makes us vulnerable, and vulnerability is beautiful. The best thing about humans is our sheer imperfection and our willingness to fight and get as close to perfection as possible.
I’m human and I want a lot of things that I may or may not attain, and I don’t mind. A lot of high schoolers would much rather fail for lack of trying rather than fail despite their best efforts. But life isn’t about our starting point. Life isn’t about how smart or pretty we are. Life is about where we eventually end up and how much we achieve with whatever we have. Being born with a “lower IQ” than someone else does not mean we’re worse than the “smart” person. It only means that we’re better than the “smart person” at something else.
So why should we spend high school trying to prove our smarts or talents to other people? Why should we study into the early hours of the morning and insist we didn’t study at all? Why should we put on a grand display for people who we’ll probably never see again after four years?
Why should we live for others when ourselves are so much more important?
We stress so much about college because a good college helps establish a good reputation. There’s nothing wrong with a good college, but we’re working our butts off for something very vague. If you asked us why we want to go to so and so colleges, we wouldn’t know. We might mention that we want a good job, but we’re not sure why we do what we do. We don’t know why we’re rushing and rushing and rushing like this; we only know that we can’t let other people see our stress. Unfortunately, this only adds on to our already high stress levels.
Obviously colleges aren’t the only things we freak out about. There’s also the whole guy and girl drama. I’ve never gotten used to people using popularity with the other gender as proof of their attractiveness. A guy told me once that I was fat and ugly, and I didn’t mind; frankly, I value my opinion of myself more than I value that lame guy’s opinion. And I think I’m pretty.
Besides, the ugliest people are not the people with non-perfect faces. The truly ugly are people who aren’t ever satisfied with themselves, no matter what features they have.
My sister said something else quite fascinating. She told me, “Everyone wants to look like they got into Harvard by accident.” In other words, everyone wants others to think they succeeded without even trying. When I told her how one of my friends is taking 7 AP’s next year, along with having to handle leadership duties in both Speech and Debate and Journalism, she replied, “He’s a good guy, but he has that – like – bad guy mindset. So the bad guy conquers the world. Great. What exactly does he plan to do with it? People with the ‘bad-guy mindset’ don’t think ahead. That’s like the AP’s. So he’s taking on an impressive load, definitely more than he can handle. Congratulations. But I doubt he’s thought about it carefully, about the fact that there’s only 24 hours a day and that he needs to sleep and eat as well.”
Then I asked her how she knew all this – she’s only ten, after all. And she replied, “Children aren’t necessarily smarter – they just have a more honest outlook.”
She sees the obvious, which is so obvious that the rest of us have a hard time seeing it. Gosh darn.