When asked about their high school experience, most find themselves on two ends of the spectrum—either loving every moment, or abhorring it completely. I believe it should be neither, truthfully. I think my high school experience was exactly how it should be for everyone. While these past years have certainly not been the “best of my life,” they were not the worst, rather best being classified as a period of learning and growth.

I entered high school just like most—completely clueless, unsure of what was ahead and who I was. I had no idea that the next years would consist of change, oftentimes more painful than anything. However, I would not trade a single stressful night of studying or tear shed over fickle classmates for anything. The moments spent wishing for nothing more than for high school to be over helped me become someone stronger and more mature than the little ninth grader I once was ever could have hoped. Yet that is not to imply high school was solely awful—hundreds of beautiful memories have been made during the past few years, memories that I will treasure forever.

High school is, more often than not, worthy of a universal cringe. And while most experiences, be them ranging from failed assignments to awful fashion choices, it is indescribably vital that we are careful to focus on all the good. No one enters and leaves high school the same person, and this new person we become allows us to enter a world of previously untapped possibility and potential. High school was no walk in the park by any means. But the difficulties intertwined with the joys create a beautiful, albeit oftentimes awkward, story—a story that shapes who we are to become.