It’s Okay To Love High School

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I have a shameful secret to reveal. I. LOVED. HIGH. SCHOOL. Oh my god, what?! Who said that? I hated high school. I was so misunderstood and such an outcast. Everyone hated me because I only listened to Mazzy Star and wore mismatched Puma shoes! Don’t make me go back there!

No JK though, I actually loved my high school years. I mean, freshman year sucked because I had no friends and spent all my time renting Queer As Folk “for the storylines” at my local Blockbuster but the rest of high school rocked. Youth wasn’t wasted on me. In fact, I embraced it. I was an unabashed emotional, horny, bitchy, insane teenager and I loved/ blogged every crazy moment of it.

I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school but I certainly didn’t feel uncool. Maybe it’s because I went to a magnet school for smart kids that banned sports and only focused on academics. The atypical set up created a social about-face that allowed the smart funny kids to be popular rather than the jocks. Our pep rallies were for academic achievements instead of sports, and people were looked down upon for not being in Honors or AP classes. It was a place that prized brain over brawn, which was perfect for a weird closeted gay kid like me.

Senior year was the best mostly because I started having sex and had a schedule that allowed me to leave school at 12:30 every day. Junior year was actually the toughest because I had to take AP tests, PSATS, ACTs, ACT II’s, and SAT’s. I spent my weekends at school taking practice tests that year and it blew major 16-year-old balls. There was so much pressure to get into a good school, which is weird in retrospect, because I only ended up applying to a crappy state school. All of that hard work ended up not mattering because I just wanted to live in San Francisco. Sorry Mom and Dad/ my brain!

Talking to people now, I realize that my situation wasn’t common. Everyone loves to talk about how much they loathed high school and only really came into their own in college. I feel really lucky to have attended a school that embraced my quirks. I came out of the closet before I began my senior year and I wasn’t even bullied once. There were so many actual freaks at my school who played Magic cards and wore raver pants that being gay didn’t seem like such a big deal comparatively.

I used to feel weird about loving high school as much as I did. Wasn’t I supposed to be like Daria and spend all my time in my room feeling lost in translation? Instead, I thrived and got nominated for a bunch of superlatives, had a boyfriend, and a really good group of friends. The shame! I feel good about it now though and you should too. There’s no need to earn your stripes or have battle scars. Being a teenager in high school wasn’t fun all the time and I wouldn’t do it over again if I could, but it was still a really dreamy fun time that I look back on with fondness. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • http://twitter.com/yivonaie yvonne

    ha, i thought i was the only one who loved high school but maybe it’s because i went to a magnet school too? 

    • http://fazed-girl.blogspot.com Samantha

      GPOY

  • NF

    100% agree with 100% everything stated in this! oddly, if i would have written something like this, it would be the same thing, because this is my life.. down to the time of year i came out in high school being before senior year.

    i loved high school, and do feel bad for those who didn’t – and i understand why, it just isnt my story. it is a great treasure i keep locked away and look at with fond memories, great friends, and ridiculous times. dont get me wrong, i love college, but high school was as perfect as it possibly could be for me too, ryan!

  • Kim Windyka

    i loved it too! also, please tell me you had a livejournal.

    • http://twitter.com/gayworldproblem Gay World Problems

      That he did. Ryan has mentioned livejournal a couple of times. And may even wrote a Thought Catalog entry on it.

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    “There were so many actual freaks at my school who played Magic cards and wore raver pants that being gay didn’t seem like such a big deal comparatively.” You’re a lucky man. Personally, I can say nothing could ever make me more miserable than high school–at the time, obviously. Now I think maybe I whined too much and enjoyed too little while I was literally footloose and fancy-free.

  • Lindsey

    i loved high school too.

  • Anonymous

    oh shit guys, the thought catalog demo is getting younger.

    time to move to htmlgiant!

  • http://twitter.com/emilybelden emily belden

    My favorite part of high school was getting hot five years after I graduated and making out with the star football-turned guitar player at a bar in Chicago. To each his own.

  • Jazzy

    I liked high school too. I wasn’t bullied (according to other articles that means I was a bully, or invisible), I had my best friends, I played sports, and I got good grades. I guess I was one of the lucky ones, but I always thought of high school as a mandatory stepping stone and it worked for me.

  • Guestropod

    I had a great group of friends in high school with whom I’m still, like, close or whatever.  I wasn’t bullied and although I went to a terrible small-town public high school that loooooved its football, I never felt uncool because all my friends were in art anyway.  I was reasonably well-liked by other groups.  Unfortunately, I have a shitty family.  So all the years until I moved out were shitty anyway.  

  • Wtf

    ew, no.

  • A4060715

    You should’ve gone to a Catholic school with a heavy emphasis on football. That fucking sucks.

  • http://allirense.com Alli

    I really liked high school, which is apparently strange among my peers. I went to a private school. Maybe that makes a difference.

  • Kim

    high school and i were in a complicated relationship. i had a good group of friends that i’m still close with, felt relatively well-liked but not mean or catty, my teachers were great, sports and clubs were fun, and i was very grateful for the many opportunities available to me (public school in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb). 

    on the other hand…. i still regret being so uptight and stressed about grades and getting into a good school. that pretty much consumed my entire four years, plus my livejournal. i was too shy to talk to boys, so contented myself with obsessions at a distance. not healthy. i still wish i’d had an innocent high school relationship or fling because college and random hookups were a very rude introduction to sexuality. not to mention, being single in hs had such a crippling affect on my self-esteem. i wish i’d known to live a little, let loose, RELAX, and stop being so freaking shy and awkward- when now i know boys were just intimidated ;)

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    I LOVED High School! During, and even more in hindsight. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-McCartney/653387632 James McCartney

    As you maybe aware, in the UK Secondary School is vaguely equivalent to High School.

    I hated Secondary School along with the majority of people in it.  If I had the chance to do it all again, I would like to contract Bubonic Plague and then skip merrily around rubbing by swolen, blackened armpit glands on those around me, thus potentially wiping some of the excrement away from the anus of society (albeit a token amount).

    For years I’ve lived in the mistaken belief that the only problems I had with that god-awful learning establishment revolved around other people, but I now realise that what I really hated was what I became during my time there.  Its not the fact that I occasionally got bullied that blackens my memories of this time so much as the fact I too was a bully, taking out my fustration at being bullied on those who were unwilling to stand up for themselves, just as I was too cowardly to stand up to my own tormentors.

    Secondary School took what could have been some of the best years of my life and used the time to turn me into one of the worst poeple I know.

    Thanks a fucking bunch, Secondary School.

  • http://beautylikeakaleidoscope.blogspot.com Katie

    I’m currently loving high school. Homeschool (yes it’s weird but whatever) has given me loads of opportunities- art classes at a college near my house, working during the day, traveling to the Middle East in the middle of May…the list is endless. I’ll hopefully finish up highschool in Germany/the Netherlands. It’s been great. 

  • Richard Geib

    High school enjoyed you, too, Ryan… good times.

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