Mattie’s Musing: Freshman Woes and Letting Go

“Do you want to sign up to sing a song?” my friend asked me. It was the last Homecoming of my high school career, what I thought was an overrated landmark. We were dancing on the warm concrete, listening to the karaoke that blared in front of us. And when I say “dancing,” what I really mean is jumping and singing and shaking and flailing around in all the best ways.

Did I want to go up there and sing in front of my classmates?

Three years before, I stood, rather than danced, on the same ground. That is, until I got uncomfortable and found a place to sit down. I remember wanting to dance, to feel normal, to not constantly question the purpose of my arms and legs and the status of my hair. But my discomfort guided me to the nearest chair. At my first high school dance, I didn’t have a very good time.

But bouncing around at my last Homecoming, knowing my legs would be sore the next day, I knew what I wanted to do.

“Yes! What should we sing?”

After 20 minutes of more dancing, we went up and sang Fergalicious in front of an excited crowd. Blasting the lyrics and pretending like I knew how to dance, I couldn’t help but wonder how I got there.

Somehow I went from forgetting the purposes of my limbs and drowning in what I thought were the stares of upperclassmen at dances to having the time of my life.

I could blame high school for making me afraid of what everyone else thought in the first place, but I’d also have to credit it for teaching me to let that go.

It’s no secret that the social aspect of high school isn’t always fun; it’s common for us to be afraid. What do I look like right now? Are they whispering about me?

While trying to embrace high school, it’s easy to get lost in the fear. It’s easy to go through this whole thing trying to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

And that’s where I was freshman year, so caught up in trying to watch myself that I forgot which eyes were mine.

So I’d like to thank high school for teaching me what it really means to take everything in. You have to embrace yourself first.

That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to go up and grab the karaoke microphone at their last Homecomings. Embracing one’s self could mean joining the dance team or the surf club or learning more about a potential passion. It’s about finding the kinds of things that allow us to make memories.

While I was losing my breath, belting the rap to Fergalicious, I was no longer trying to see myself through someone else’s eyes. I was having pure fun and making a memory.

It is a memory that I’ll bookmark in my mental Book of High School and that I’ll remember as a landmark of personal growth. Through four years of high school we’ve come a long way.

I know I’m not the only one who wishes I could go back and tell my freshman self to just let it go and enjoy myself, but we all have to start somewhere. And freshman Mattie, despite wallowing in self-pity at her first high school dance, will grow  .

 

Worrying about graduation is taking away from my senior experience.

Sure, the road to graduation has already started. But it’s not all about graduation; the road is important too. I want to feel that textured ground beneath my feet, to savor every step, to take it all in without peering too far into the future. I want to experience this.