Dear Friend

Dear friend,

I’m writing to you now because she said you’d listen and that you are going through the tumultuous experience known as high school. I’m not sure who you are, and you probably don’t know who I am. I’m not even sure you’ll find what I’m writing useful, but the chance that you will is why I am doing this. For me, and perhaps it will be the same for you, high school was made up of a complicated and confusing dichotomy—moments of relentless happiness and instants of indisputable pain.

Currently, I am a senior. Soon, I will be graduating, but I try not to talk about that because when I do, there are those people that begin to get sad. And I do not want to make them sad. I’m not sure if they know it or not, but I can see it.

So, this is my experience, at least, in a nutshell. Four years ago, I was that freshman that you didn’t know. And I did not like high school. The entire system seemed to be comprised of people who apparently liked each other. It was a place where the table you sat at determined the type of person you would become and more importantly who your friends were. The thing was that I never quite sat at one table, and if I did, it was the empty table on those searing hot days. Was I purposefully trying to be “different”? I’d like to think not and that that’s just how things were. People like different but not too different. Being too different meant you were just trying too hard to be different. Don’t worry, it was just as confusing for me. In middle school, I had a friend that shall be called Jack because I do not want you to know who he actually is. Jack and I hung out just about everyday at lunch. But on the first day of high school, he sat at the stone table with gum stuck on its umbrella while I was just trying to figure out where my classes were. And we hardly spoke again. I figured that’s just how things were supposed to be.

Going into my sophomore year, I decided to take a huge chance—something you’d never expect someone like me to do. What made me take that chance? I’m really not quite sure. I mulled it over for a few days and talked to a few people who I knew to be my friends. I decided to shake the system and ran for class council secretary. And I won! Much to my own surprise. Suddenly, I found myself participating in a myriad of things that I had never quite paid attention to before. Spirit week became tolerable and somewhat exciting when I allowed myself to have fun. I began to appreciate the new people I met even if they didn’t feel the same about me. I found that things did not have to be as they were as I found myself building relationships with people I thought it impossible to do so with.

As junior year crept up, I decided to take an even bigger chance. This one’s a doozy—I decided to run for class council president. Once again, I put myself way out of my comfort zone, even surprising a few of the people I thought to be my friends. I took this bigger leap out of blind belief that I could make some deciding difference. Somehow, I won, and I went into the upcoming year  with the same extraordinary hope as that old sport. Of course, however, the inevitable climax came crashing down with a violent denouement. It started when a friend named Luke (again, not his real name) forgot we were friends and a reason-less rift began to grow between us. Then the school work reached a nearly unbearable load, not the mention the creeping pressures of college. The poisons of competition began to intoxicate people into a state of vast carelessness, and that once special week was temporarily absent of enjoyment. I was drunk on hope, and the hangover had hit me hard. I became sick of hope, so I slowly sunk into darkest corner of my consciousness, hiding myself from the world. I began to recognize the despicable yet intrinsic parts of the human complex. We were all just looking for an upper hand.

To my chagrin, I was not reelected. I finally started feeling the bite of that snake called chance that I had foolishly played with. When I was hiding in myself, I constantly asked, “Why was I like this?” I sought the answer in people I knew to be my friends, but in the early moments of senior year, there was already a subtle distance between them and myself that had not been there before. But I refused to believe that “that’s just how things were supposed to be” out of some desperate desire to be friends beyond high school. It seemed I was at the end of the rope, and I still had no answer to my question. People were choosing their colleges and seemed to have everything figured out. There was a day at lunch where I was standing in the line for the microwave. As I waited, I looked out at the round tables, and the people I thought to be my friends were sitting at the edges of their seats. Once again, I was a timorous freshman trying to find a table to sit at.

Then one day, a classmate named Percy stopped me on the way to AP Physics and asked if I wanted to hang out with him after school. We had never really talked before, only time to time, but I agreed to join him. We got drinks at a nearby Starbucks and found a table where he asked, “How are you doing?” I froze in perplexity; I only cried. He hugged me. It took a few moments for me to collect myself. For hours, I talked, and he listened and offered whatever help he could, even when there was nothing he could actually do but listen. As I rambled on, I paused when I was suddenly aware that the only one holding me back was me. It wasn’t much of a conclusion, but I began to work with it. I began to be hopeful again while tempering the chances that I took. I spent time with those I knew to be my friends and sat at many different tables. It has taken a lot of time to get where I am now, and it definitely has not been easy to keep it up. There are still days where I let myself get to, well, myself, and I remain within my own head, but I’m working on it. I still have not figured everything out. There are still many questions. And that is okay.

I’m coming to the end of this letter. I’m not sure if I will write more because I will be trying to participate when I get to college, so if this is the only one I write, I hope you have a nice experience. You deserve it. If things are not good now, please believe that they will be soon enough.

Love always,

Charlie

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