On my first day of freshman year, one of my teachers told the class that high school would be the best four years of our lives. My first reaction, which was a bit cynical, I admit, was, “Gee, that’s a little pathetic.” Because why would you want the best four years of your life to be done before the time you hit 20? What about the other hopefully-many decades of your life? After high school, you should have so much more to look forward to. Throughout my four years at high school, I maintained that same stance. For some people, high school is great, and for others less so. But I think for most people, myself included, it’s somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. A lot can happen in four years, and a lot will happen.
Something that I try to remind myself is not be afraid to try new things. (Especially if the desire to adhere to social norms is reason for which you hesitate to proceed.) I remember in the fall of this year, senior year, girls on my soccer team were already getting excited about prom and what kinds of dresses they wanted. Prom was something I was not quite dreading, but was definitely not particularly looking forward to. A big part of my hesitance was having to dress up. A lot of young females enjoy dressing up, but that has always been something I like to avoid. Formal settings, like Prom, tend to very gendered, which, even though I have no problems with being female, is something that makes me uncomfortable.
My mind was full of all these preconceived notions about what prom ought to be: the girls get all dolled up in fancy gowns and the guys all dress up like classy penguins, and that the girls are supposed to be asked out by some guy. What I was dreading, and it seems quite silly to me now, only a few months later, was the thought that I’d have to wear a dress. For a while, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Though in the end, I had the following thought process in my decision to attend: I figured it wouldn’t hurt, it is a (somewhat literally) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I could just go with a group of friends, and I didn’t actually have to wear a dress.
In my Gender in Society class recently, we have been talking a lot about the rise in prom-related articles ('tis the season, I suppose), and how some chronicled stories of non-traditional experiences (girls wearing tuxedos and going with someone of the same gender, etc.) and how those individuals faced discrimination and harassment from not just from uneducated peers, but sometimes narrow-minded administrators as well. It reminded me once again that I should be thanking for living in such an open town as I do. I’m not saying it’s always the perfect little bubble that a lot of people say it is; there is still bullying and discrimination here, but in comparison to a lot of other places, it is generally quite safe. That being said, people should take advantage of this relatively safe space to explore who they are and try new things because there will be more people who support you in than who will try to bring you down.
Someone who's roughly four years older (and hopefully four years wiser) than you