Dear freshman self, the world does not revolve around you

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Brace yourself for what I’m about to tell you. It will cause you to question all that you think you know and force you to change your outlook. It will likely be the most revelatory lesson you learn in high school: the world does not revolve around you.

We have been told for years that we are each special, and that therefore we all not only deserve to but are entitled to succeed. We’ve been lied to. If you have not found this out yet, you will soon at a school and in a community that is as competitive as those of New Trier.

Maybe when you get cut from a varsity team, or when you earn the first C that you have ever earned in your entire life, or when you receive your first rejection letter.

You will experience failure—and I’m not talking about the things that happen to most of us, like having your car taken away by your parents for the weekend, or receiving a mediocre grade on an essay you wrote during advisery. I’m talking about failure. Failure is devastating, embarrassing, crushing.

But here’s the thing. When you experience failure, you also have the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to get better. Especially at a high school as well-resourced and thriving as New Trier, there are so many places and people prepared to help you. Take advantage of them. You owe that to yourself.

Very few people—if any—care as much as you do. You will fall down the P stairwell at some point in your time at New Trier. When you do, you will receive a few sympathetic smiles and a friendly passerby might even offer you a hand. Then, literally everyone will move on with their lives—and you should too.

Here’s something else you will soon come to realize. New Trier students are all really good at pretending that we have our whole lives perfectly together. We sneak-brag about how many AP classes we’re taking, we Instagram airbrushed selfies on the beach, we drop names of colleges we are “considering.” Everyone does this. To an extent, we cannot help it.

My point is this: none of us have any clue what is going on. We are all barely surviving high school. Many of us have family problems, friend drama, financial hardship, mental health struggles.

Even that person who appears to have a 6.0 GPA and a 39 ACT and several leadership roles and an active social life.

We are all in this together. Sometimes, high school sucks. There’s no way around that. But, sometimes, high school can be amazing. You can make lifelong friends and learn really cool things from really cool teachers and discover what you love to do.

There is a whole world beyond the walls of New Trier. Get out there every once in a while. It’s good for you. You come to learn that there are bigger problems than the trek up to the fourth floor and the spotty WiFi and the required physical education classes. Kim, there’s people that are dying.

Most importantly, remember that contrary to popular belief, high school does not last forever. Thank God for that.

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