Natalie’s News: Friends Make the World Go ‘Round

Natalie Guarino, Managing Editor

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As September comes to a close, I invite you to look back on your high school career.

Maybe it’s less than a month long, and you still don’t know where your counselor’s office is.

Maybe you’re counting down the days until graduation, and cursing OPRF in your sleep. No matter. Everyone takes something positive away from high school.  (maybe).

As I look back on my past three years of high school, I’ve found myself becoming sentimental (as a 17-year-old does). High school has been so wild! I’ve met so many people who I didn’t think I would like, but ended up loving. I’ve entered so many classrooms with incredibly low expectations and left with incredible memories. I’ve eaten so many cafeteria cookies and drank so many cafeteria smoothies that did not live up to the hype.

A few nights ago, I woke up in a cold sweat. I had dreamt the worst possible fate: I was a freshman. Again. In this horrible nightmare/alternate reality I was so new at OPRF, I was still wearing an orange lanyard through the halls.

As I sat up in bed and tried to calm my shaken nerves, I examined why that dream had been so uniquely terrifying.

For those few moments, the past three years of my life had been erased. All the tests I’d crammed for, all the teachers I’d sucked up to, all the time I’d dedicated to sports had been for naught.

But what struck me as the most alarming part of this hypothetical reality were the forsaken friendships. Imagining, even subconsciously, that I hadn’t met some of the people who have made my high school experience worthwhile was a terrifying thought.

High school is memorable to everyone for different reasons, but for me, people have made it exceptional. Back when I really was a freshman I was incredibly psyched to “make my place” at OPRF, but I was also scared of all the looming upperclassmen who ruled over the hallways. They were all so loud and confident! They all knew each other!

Now a senior, as I walk down the halls I have the confidence to wave to almost everyone I see, even if they don’t know who I am and it’s a really awkward encounter.

With all the good things OPRF has to offer, high school can also be extremely rough. Our teenage years can be tough, because everyone goes through some level of second-guessing themselves. We all struggle to figure out who we are and where we fit in. It’s a hotbed for insecurity, which can take a toll on the rest of our lives.

My mental health changed drastically when I entered high school. Academics, friends, and everything else seemed to get more intense as I became a freshman suddenly surrounded by 4,000 peers.

Sophomore year, the pressures and anxieties changed as friend groups shifted. Junior year was filled with the looming threat of the ACT and SAT and every other standardized test under the sun.

So far, senior year is consumed by the Common App and fear of college.

Every year brings different things to worry about, and they inevitably affect our self-worth, interactions with others, and every other aspect of mental health.

One thing I’ve learned is that all these burdens that often feel insurmountable can be eased by people. For me, friends have made the difference between sinking or swimming. People at OPRF, from school friends who are always there to send you the homework, to your best friends who you’ve known since first grade, are the ones who keep you afloat.