Off the Record: a reflection with my 14-year-old self

By Shreya Partha

Would I be able to make friends? Would people like me? Why are there so many people here? 

Entering the large gym as a timid 14 year old, I had prepared myself mentally for every scenario — a few good, but mostly bad. My nerves twisted into a knot in my stomach, my face ran hot and I can still vividly recollect the overwhelming feeling of nausea. 

Transitioning from a small private school, I was not accustomed to the practice of seeing any more than 50 people a day, and making new friends was a concept I had abandoned in second grade. Understandably, as I entered a vast campus brimming with people, it took everything in me to prevent the dinner I had last night from threatening to escape.

There are a lot of things that could have gone differently throughout my high school career, but looking back, I’m grateful for the path that I did take for the experiences I acquired are irreplaceable. (Photo by Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

At a steady five feet, I was only three inches shorter than I am now. But in the growth of those three inches, more changed than my height. 

I did not enter high school with a clear vision of how my future would unfold. I didn’t know what classes I wanted to take, what clubs I wanted to participate in or what fields I wanted to pursue. At the time, I thought I was no different from the other incoming freshmen. Yet, as I glanced around me, it seemed that everyone had found their niche. While some students flocked to the club fair booths, others spoke eagerly about their goals for the next four years.

It was only in my junior year that I finally acquired the knowledge I wish I had in freshman year. Throughout COVID, I explored various interests and took heed from my peers in becoming more serious about my future. I pushed myself to the bone and filled my life with all sorts of projects. My life was a never-ending cycle of school, extracurriculars and work. . In a way, I felt like I had missed out on two years of school where I could have been doing something more with my life; I had lost hours that I could have used to take more challenging classes, push myself through extracurriculars and do more prep for the ACT. 

Now, however, I have learned to be grateful for my path. The feeling of accomplishment I have gained from persevering throughout high school is irreplaceable. Sure, at times I wish I had gone to a middle school that prepared me both socially and academically for high school, but the reality is that I didn’t. What I know is that if I had, I would have lost the opportunity to grow as a person. Constantly chasing my goal of improving myself is an experience I would have missed out on if I had grown in an environment that allowed me to enter high school at ease. 

Attending a public school definitely would have had its benefits — I would have known a lot more people, and the experience l would have better prepared me for the intensity and importance of high school. Yet, despite missing out on this, the feeling of learning valuable lessons all on my own is one I never want to replace. This experience has provided me with an affinity for improving myself. 

As a 14 year old, I never would have guessed that I would be doing half the things I am now. 14- year-old me would be surprised to know that I stuck with journalism and became the Editor-in-Chief. 14-year-old me would be ecstatic to find out that I got into college. 14-year-old me would feel the same way I do now — grateful, content and excited for the future.