The first realization to make when entering adulthood.
"I believe I'm a good person. You know, I think that there's good in everyone, but—here we are: first day of senior year. And uh... I look around at these kids that I've known all my life and I ask myself—what happened?"
This is the opening monologue of "Heathers: The Musical." "Heathers" is based on the classic 1989 cult film of the same name. It's vulgar, crude, and downright obscene. However, minus the murder and bombs, it pretty much sums up the high school experience.
It focuses on the premise of high school stereotypes: the jocks, the nerds, the stoners, etc. The two "main" characters believe that they're different, so much so that they murder a few of their fellow students to prove a point. The leading female reluctantly goes along with it and eventually "puts an end" to the bullying and murder in her school. The show's message is that there's no need for high school students to be so immature and rude to each other.
I find myself feeling like I'm looking at a high school snow globe. I have all but one math credit, I'm already accepted to my top choice college, and I'm already taking a college class and getting credits. At this point in high school, I'm sort of just there. They really don't even care if I get to school before noon, just as long as I'm there before the bell rings at 3:45. On one hand, I find myself being bored. No one expects anything of me IN school, so I have more time to do things OUTSIDE of school. Between practicing for music festivals and drama productions, I've been doing a lot of people watching, and along with it, a fair amount of soul searching. I'm going to share some with you now, and perhaps some more later if anyone actually wants to know more.
I often say, "I'm an adult" after I do something stupid. There's always SOMEONE who says, "then why did you do that?" Thank you, Deborah, I really needed that reminder that I'm not actually cut out to be an adult. Especially since it was a joke. Around November probably, I started asking myself: what makes you an adult? What classifies you as more knowledgeable and competent enough to be a functioning member of society? What is it that causes us to finally lose our shell of immaturity and really branch out and grow?
I've found a good part of the answer.
An adult is made up of many factors. The one we're going to talk about now is humility.
When we're a freshman in high school, we tend to think we know everything. We brag to seniors about how good we are at everything, probably even better than them, in hopes of impressing them. As a senior, this is infuriating. I've worked too hard and too long to have a freshman tell me how much better they are than me. I was sitting there, thinking about how much I wanted to deck him, and I realized I did the same thing as a freshman. I bragged about the comparatively small achievements and successes I had and did everything I could to try and impress the seniors so that they'd be my friend. So, I decided to tolerate it.
I had finally had enough. You love a kid, but you can only take so much. I decided it was time to warn them of what they were doing wrong: how they're being arrogant, how people openly complain to me about them, how it's completely natural, and that they should stop before it's too late. I sent my message, and patted myself on the back. I had just saved a freshman from his Freshman Year Crisis™ in which all he does is be a huge jerk all the time in hopes that it'll get him some sex. What a service I was doing to the world! I wish someone had done that to me when I was his age.
And then I remembered.
They told me I was being a bit over the top, and that THEY were the same way as a freshman, and that they were setting me on the straight and narrow. My response was similar to how my friend reacted.
He started telling me that every time someone tried to knock him down a peg, he used it to push himself farther and achieve more and more to the point that he's so much more successful than I am already. He's so this and so that and... he's 14, maybe 15-years-old. If he's peaked in achievements already, then I don't want to be around to see what he does in five years, because it'll all be downhill from here. How can he possibly think he knows more than me? How can he possibly think he's better than me? What on earth is going on in his mind?
It's exactly the same thing that was going through MY mind when I told Ariel that I appreciated her advice, but I was fine on my own. I didn't think I needed to listen to her, or anyone older than me, because I was that fantastic. It's the same thing that was going through her mind when she was a freshman telling her senior drum major how amazing she was. The cycle never ends.
So... What have I taken away from my failed attempt at saving my friend from himself?
Children will be children. There's only so much we can do to protect them from making the same mistakes we did. And no matter how hard we try, they still probably won't listen. What do we know, am I right? All we can do is our best, and hope that they find themselves in this same position when they're a senior, just as our senior did before us.
I leave you with this.
Spite is a great motivator. It makes us become better than anyone ever thought we could be. But there is a fine, fine line between taking pride in your work and shoving your work in other people's faces. Humility is understanding the difference, and maturity is putting it into motion.
And once you recognize this, you're one step closer to not only being an adult, but also a good person.