Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thus Far: High School Reflection (Identity Part 3)

Wow. I have graduated. It's still weird to think about because I don't feel any different, whatsoever. Sure, my room is cleaner now (mostly to do with the fact that I've had time to clean it) and my closet is bigger (yay, college money!) but I feel like I should understand more, about myself and how the world works. But the more I think about it, the more I am consistently unsure of who I am.

I've reached a milestone: graduation. And I've just finished updating all of my emails to reflect that. All the old accounts are removed from my computer. Everything's cleaned up, all the loose ends tied up in bows and cut evenly on both sides. But that was the easy part. The emails, the passwords, the browsers, those are all fairly easy to reset, despite it seeming like a monumental task when I first began. The hard part is cleaning up the parts of my identity still in my head. I have no clue who I am. All these years I've had my life handed out to me in ready to eat, easy to digest pieces. Do this, do that, say this, think that. A ton of societal rules and regulations that I easily took for granted. But I don't understand them at all.

Throughout high school I've learned a bit on how to question the things that are presented to me. This has helped me make clearer choices, to figure out what things I want for myself. But I have yet to learn simply what I want for myself. Who I am. My identity. It feels like a dirty fish tank, mostly livable for the fish inside, but also kind of gross, with little scummy bits floating around. I can't just dump all the water out and start afresh, because that would kill the fish inside, and I certainly can't do nothing about it. If anything, it's certainly going to be a slow, tedious process, replacing all the water gradually and filtering out the icky parts.

But maybe that murkiness is just me. There are a lot of things that are unclear to me about my identity, and I'm ok with that. It's an ongoing process, and there is no deadline. Of course I'd like to find clarity, but perfection is boring. To be as perfect and as lifeless as plastic. Not what I want.

Sometimes I really wonder if I'd be happier now if I'd just kept my head down and worked harder and just kept quiet until I was out and in college and free. They always say, “No one regrets not having worked harder,” but I'm kind of feeling that right now. I oscillate between wanting a life of accomplishment and grandeur to a quiet life snuggled in blankets under the warm window of a tiny apartment. Or maybe I want both, but I'm stuck between the two and I'm stagnantly awaiting a big opportunity to present itself, knowing that it's not going to show unless I look for it, but at the same time, too scared to move.

I just need a good cry-out, but I don’t cry anymore. I get scared whenever I think about this. It makes me feel less human somehow. I don't know how to express myself, I can't deal with emotions. And thats why I'm scared of panic attacks, because I feel like I get dependent on them as an outlet, or a form of emotional release, to let out all the bottled up stuff inside.

Speaking of panic attacks, I've come to realize that my mental health issues are a separate entity from myself. I was not my own worst enemy, but something inside of me was. Given my situation, I'm glad I was strong enough to avoid succumbing from it. But I still have dreams; there are things I want to do, and I refuse to let my issues take those away from me. So from now on, if those dark times happen again, at least I have the experience, and I can fight it. And I can defeat it.

Alternatively, something that's come up in high school is the cause of those issues, directly and indirectly. I hate the toxic attitude of some people, who make you feel inferior in order to make themselves feel superior. I have a feeling that this isn't going to go away at a school like Berkeley. I don't like the competition and how it makes me feel about who I am. This isn't to say that I'm not good enough to be competitive, but it makes me unhappy and exhausted being in a rat race all the time.

I am so terrified of the world. I slip through closing doors trying to remain unnoticed. I avoid talking to people if I can help it. I'm waiting for someone to come save me, to understand me, to fix me, but if the cliches are true, there's no one out there who can do that. I can only save myself.

To say what I think of my life now in a few sweeping statements: my life goal is not to get to the top and to live a life of lavish opulence, my life's purpose is to empower others. I am a helper by nature and I will not fight it, but I also refuse to be stepped on and used by other people to get what they want.

High school was one of the most difficult times of my life so far. If I had to describe it one word, it would be "awareness," in regards to myself and the world around me. Not that it was easy to become aware – I'd daresay it was traumatic – but one learns from adversity, and I'm glad to have become the person I am now. Of course, there's still so much I need to learn, and so much more growing up to do, but I do have time for that. This is one chapter of my life that I've changed much in, but I'm just as glad to leave it behind and pursue the next adventure, hopefully in a more positive manner. ◊

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