College is extremely hyped up in today’s society. We know it as the “best four years of your life,” while high school is known as a time full of drama, dumb mistakes, standardized tests and mean cheerleaders. Lots of people I’ve met have said they hated high school, though not quite as much as they hated middle school. Then, there’s the classic joke: “you peaked in high school,” which is often intended to be an insult rather than a compliment.
In all honesty, I loved high school. I’m blessed that I had the best group of friends in the world, avoided a lot of the drama, did relatively well academically and didn’t encounter any mean cheerleaders. Many people at Stanford had a similar high school experience – the fact that we are here proves that we must have not only survived, but thrived in high school, in one way or another. Don’t get me wrong, the senioritis was real, and I was beyond ready to graduate along with everyone else. But ultimately, while I went into high school thinking it would be horrible based on the movies and stories I’ve heard, I came out thinking it was a fantastic — maybe even the best four years of my life.
So I had really high expectations for college. I didn’t expect it to be perfect, by any means, but I figured if high school was that good, college would be even better.
I don’t mean to say I was disappointed when I got here as a freshman. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was thrilled to be taking such thought-provoking classes under knowledgeable professors, meeting amazing friends to have both intellectual and absolutely stupid conversations with and having a blast with my newfound independence. People were right – college was great. Yet, for some reason, I found myself missing high school.
At first, I denied it. I didn’t want to be that girl who peaked in high school. But over winter break, I went back to Chicago (where I went to high school) for the first time since college started, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I missed high school. A lot. I missed my high school friends, the high school hang-out spots and the overall familiarity of the place. Familiar, I’ve realized, is one thing that the first quarter of college definitely isn’t.
For a while, I kept trying to pinpoint what made me miss high school. It wasn’t that I hadn’t made good friends at college, because I have. It wasn’t that I thought the academics or extracurricular activities were better in high school, because they weren’t. It wasn’t even that I wanted to go back to high school, because I was ready for change and growth. In fact, the thought of going back there for another year actually makes my head want to explode. Towards the end of winter break, I truly was excited to return to campus – to see my friends here and get started with new classes.
So, if everything was going so well in college, why did I miss high school so much? Because high school was a good time.
I’d been overthinking it for all of fall quarter. I missed high school simply because it was a good time, just like I miss being in Key West for vacation, which was also a good time. There was no deeper meaning behind it besides that I enjoyed it; it was memorable.
I read once that you shouldn’t feel bad loving a new friend, because that doesn’t mean you love an old friend less – it just means that you have more love inside of you.
I will no longer feel bad for loving Stanford as much as I do, despite how good high school was to me. It doesn’t mean the love I had for high school is diminished in any way, it just means I have more to love. But on the other hand, I will also no longer feel bad for missing high school, because it doesn’t mean college isn’t amazing. It just means that, for me, high school was amazing enough to miss. Boy, am I thankful for that.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.