As someone who is entering their senior year of college, I am reflecting back on the different moments that got me to where I am. The good, the bad, and all the in between. I was a Churchill class of 2019 graduate who was a Churchill Cheerleader for three of those years, a graduate of the West End Academy by singing in Downing Street Singers and Concert Choir, and I was in all sorts of clubs. My main involvement in clubs was National Honors Society, Acts of Kindness Club, Women’s Empowerment Club, and Prom Committee. If I were to give any high school student advice, it would be to get involved as much as possible. Sure, some clubs are boring or extra work, but I would argue that it is worth it.
When I was applying for colleges, I was constantly asked to talk about extracurriculars. Colleges or future jobs want to know what sets you apart, what makes you different from the other candidates. While applying, it was so helpful to have different extra curriculars I could reference. However, I wouldn’t say the pros to getting involved were strictly revolved around applications. Auditioning to be in Downing Street was a spur of the moment thing. I was not involved in theater and didn’t have very many friends in choir. However, I knew I loved to sing. I decided last minute to not let my anxieties revolving around fitting in get in the way of one of my passions. Once I made it into the group, I knew that was the best decision I could have made. The years I sang in Downing Street, I became friends with people I had never talked to before. I was provided with a small little community that would have fun together, go on trips together, and bond together through our love for music. Moral of the story- please do not let the fear of fitting in stop you from trying new things. Everything is worth a shot.
Going off of my last “moral of the story” I wish someone opened my eyes to this harsh truth- you are not too cool for it. Meaning, I wish someone told me sooner that I wasn’t too cool to try out for Downing Street, or I wasn’t too cool to be on the prom committee. Did I literally think I was “too cool?” No. In fact, I think what was stopping me was my own fear, my anxiety. Everyone wants to “fit in” so bad. I did! About half way through high school is when I started to question, what does it even mean to “fit in?” Especially when everyone is trying to fit in, then what box is the correct one? Exactly! 16 year old Jenna was on to something! There isn’t a “correct” one. A box can be cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, whatever you want it to be. It can be really big, or kind of small. My box included cheerleading, singing, painting murals, debating political issues, youth groups, summer camps, etc. Make your box YOUR box. Don’t let other people tell you what your “box” should look like. Fitting in is a big, fat myth!
So far, it sounds like high school was pretty sunshines and rainbows for me. Let me be clear, it wasn’t. Sometimes life sucks, sometimes high school sucks. I am not here to tell you that life will make sense the second you join a club or two. Life is more than high school, or the problems that come with it. You won’t always feel pressure to fit in a box, you won’t always be applying for colleges, and you won’t always be asked “what are you planning to do with your future?” One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard was my freshman year of college. Man, I wish I heard this my freshman year of high school. I was told “sometimes life just sucks, but all we can do is sit in the suck.” Sometimes life gives you lemons and you choose to make lemonade, but sometimes it feels like the lemons are miles away. My advice: please wait. Please sit in the suck for a bit. The sun will come, the lemons will ripen, and someday you will make some sweet lemonade. I remember feeling like the “there is light at the end of the tunnel” was a myth. I remember thinking my life would be like high school forever. Let me be the proof for you. It’s not! Life is fun right now, I am still trying out new “boxes” and I really like college. It will get better, sometimes all you have to do is sit in the suck.
If this was hard to read, my apologies. I am no expert in life, or writing. I am just a college student who went to Churchill and wish I heard these things. I am a big fan of one liners so if you take away anything from this, please let it be this:
Fitting in is a myth. Everyone, everywhere, longs for acceptance and approval. Make high school your opportunity to gain your own approval. How do you do this? Do what makes you happy. Sing in choir, play a sport you suck at, join a club, or even start a club. Getting involved is worth it, and please do not let your fears stop you from doing so.
If high school doesn’t feel enjoyable right now, if life is kicking your butt, if life is sucking, please just give it some time and sit in the suck. I want each of you to experience the joys of life. For many of you, that is still to come. If all you can do is wait, then wait and try your best to make the waiting period a little more enjoyable.