This story was originally published in the fourth edition of The Lion’s Tale (February 7, 2021).
High school has a reputation for being a place where drama and judgemental behavior flourish, and unfortunately, I’ve found that to be accurate.
Being a high school student for the past three years at Oviedo High School, I have learned that no matter what you do, say, wear or how you act, someone will have something to say or have an opinion on it.
And the more you feed into it and let the empty words and hate-filled opinions get under your skin, the less you worry about the things in high school that actually matters- your real priorities- and more about the distracting harassment. Something that begins as an annoyance can start to have a real and negative impact on your grades and relationships.
And although it is very easy for me to say, “just don’t listen to them, just ignore it,” I am very aware that it is not that simple. Learning to not give a single thought about what anyone thinks of you is something that, for me personally, took a lot of time to perfect. I know how difficult
it can be from experience.
People will always have something to say on whatever it is someone does, wears or says, but there is a difference between listening to them and taking it personally, and knowing that they simply have nothing better to do and that it will not stay with you forever. Finding this distinction is what determines the kind of effect the gossip will have on you and your life.
Over time, I realized that their petty words were nothing but their jealousy of me for being able to be comfortable with what I wear, how I act, and how I live my life- care free. There are a few ways of getting to the care free point in life where you are able to focus on what really matters, especially in high school.
The first thing I did when coming to the realization that I should not be paying attention to these people was notice that I did not know most of the people that had something negative or nasty to say about me. Not only were they not people I was personally familiar with, I had no idea who the majority of them were. I had to remind myself that I owe these people nothing; they are not worth my worries, and in a few years, I will not be anywhere near them, so they have zero relevance to my journey in the long term.
Secondly, worrying about what others thought of me only took time away from the things in life I really needed to be focusing on, like school, sports and my friends and family.
My freshman year, for example, I was so focused on fitting in and letting others’ words get to me that I started falling behind in my priorities and obligations; I let the mindless hate get to my head and throw me off track.
It is a long process getting to the “I really don’t care what you think about me” track in life. Though in the end, the final destination truly makes the journey worth it. It drastically reduces the amount of stress in your life, making you a happier and more peaceful and productive person.