Last night was (not) a movie

High school does not live up to expectations

By Christine Kim

Growing up, I thought I knew exactly what my high school life would be like. After all, I thrived on classic pop tunes from Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. I distinctly remember blasting “Teenage Dream” in the car as a middle-schooler and imagining how the supposedly best years of my teenage life would be spent. 

But, flash forward to a couple years later, and there was less “heart racing in skin-tight jeans” and more staying up late to study with permanent dark circles. However, this experience is not unique to me, as it seems many students enter high school with sky-high expectations and leave disappointed.

LET EXPECTATIONS GO: Students are inevitably disappointed. (Photo courtesy of The Ringer)

A major difference from how my younger self viewed high school to now is the social aspect. From all the movies and shows I had religiously watched, I thought there would be parties every Friday night, over-the-top rallies and dreamy dances. Entering high school with these expectations made the reality seem excruciatingly bland. On top of that, I faced a strenuous academic workload that stood in stark contrast to what I was used to in middle school. 

Despite coming to terms with the choices I’ve made, a part of me feels like I’ve betrayed my younger self by not living the life I had once dreamed of. I didn’t attend all the school dances or involve myself heavily in school spirit. While I don’t regret not participating(sitting next to sweaty people and feeling my scalp burn at an outdoor rally is not exactly my idea of a good time), I sometimes wonder if I lost the opportunity to create the kinds of lasting memories that movie stars reveled in. 

Without these preconceived expectations I would have learned to value the own path I decided to take throughout high school. I would have allowed myself to explore the opportunities that brought me happiness, rather than trying to live up to the expectations set by movies. 

Ultimately, other students with similarly high expectations should look beyond the heavily edited montages and dreamy wardrobes in the media, because they’re inaccurate portrayals of what high school is like. Overall,high school is really what you make of it.

High school didn’t disappoint me completely, as I did have many enjoyable experiences throughout my years. I loved the frantic lunch-time drives to Starbucks, post-finals academic validation, instantaneous clicks with new people and so much more. However, I always felt like I was waiting for some pivotal, life-changing moment that never came. 

Pop culture oftens sets unrealistic expectations, and the high school experience is no exception. The media builds up anticipation for “the best years of your life,” and students are inevitably disappointed. These movies are entertaining but fiction at the end of the day. Instead of waiting for that improbable moment, students should try to let go of any expectations and find happiness in their own unique lives.