Photo by Amy Liu

Living an alternate path

For many, freshman year is not much beyond a fond memory of youth, a cringeworthy point in life from which they grew as the rest of their high school years bloomed. When I think back to ninth grade, however, I bitterly try to push the subject out of my mind. 

I still vividly remember my first week of school and the disaster that P.E. class was as a student who didn’t know any of his classmates. I stood petrified and alone in the gym, surrounded by students playing basketball in groups I couldn’t approach for fear of ruining the good time they were having. For the first time in my life, I felt truly stuck in solitude, unable to speak at the new school I’d moved to because I was no longer at the age where I could easily speak to peers regardless of if they were strangers.

Toward the end of eighth grade, my parents informed me of plans to enroll me at Lynbrook instead of Cupertino High, where most of my middle-school peers were to attend. I realized this would mean abandoning most if not all my friends, which deeply upset me. The fact that my parents would not listen to a single plea shocked me to the point where I distanced myself for months. 

That summer, I was incessantly told that attending Lynbrook was in the interest of my academic prosperity, and that I wouldn’t regret the decision. But above all else, the betrayal felt at having to move schools clouded my thoughts. By the time school started, I’d developed a rigid mindset to avoid talking to anyone. 

Though I eventually did adapt thanks to sympathetic classmates, my stubbornness created an unstable period of isolation for several months. My avoidance of others led to heightened paranoia, molding an inability to speak to strangers that would stick for the rest of my high school life. 

For much of high school, I was troubled by the thought that I wasn’t living the ‘correct’ path of my life and that things were meant to be different, were meant to be better. But over the years, I’ve realized moving schools was only a factor in this dissatisfaction — my high school life was what I made of it, and that’s something I’ve been forced to accept. With each setback I’ve felt an increasing awareness of my inaction; by refusing to face the inevitability of my environment, I’ve allowed much of my adolescence to be filled with unhappiness. 

Though I was challenged by being placed in an unfamiliar environment, making friends wouldn’t have been nearly as difficult had I not been adamant on isolating myself — internally, I probably realized this throughout during my first few months at Lynbrook, yet I chose not to change. Had I gathered the courage to take action, how different would my high school life have been?

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