The High School Experience: A Personal Reflection


Fia Cooper

Filled with growth and life lessons, the high school experience has been a journey worth the climb.

Anna Waldron, Editor

High school is arguably the most transformative time of a person’s life. My own experience has been filled with more memories, laughter, stress, and — most importantly, growth — than I ever could have anticipated when I began. 

The lessons I have learned about myself, about others, and about the world in the last four years have shaped who I am today, and that person is far from the naive 14-year-old girl who walked through those glass doors of La Salle nearly four years ago. I was oblivious to the overwhelming emotional distress that I would feel when I started high school. 

In some ways, it feels like an everyday battle. 

As a freshman, the struggle began with adjusting to what felt like a whole new world. I was desperately trying to make friends, considering I had only one. I never knew what it was like to feel alone in a school with so many people. I felt like I had to act a certain way or be a certain person in order to maintain a basic conversation with people in my classes or on my soccer team. 

Every day, my head was filled with an overwhelming concern about how I could manage to make myself look like someone with more friends than I actually had at the time. 

I remember constantly thinking, “I’ll start enjoying this at some point, right?” 

The truth is, I did. 

To anyone who is feeling the way I once felt, please know that those feelings do go away. By the end of my freshman year and into the next, I enjoyed myself. School wasn’t particularly challenging, and I was spending my weekends having fun with my friends and going to basketball games and sleepovers. I had finally created a routine and felt mostly content with my life, aside from daunting thoughts in my head telling me it was all a lie.

I think that’s something that all teenagers deal with. It comes with the age, the questions, “do my friends actually like me?” or “am I enough?” — “do people worry about me or have I tricked myself into thinking they do?” 

I continued to move throughout my sophomore year feeling a new level of comfort with my life. Then, the pandemic hit. 

The original two weeks of quarantine turned into two months, and then two years. The predictable high school experience I had become accustomed to was no longer my reality, and instead, high school turned into an atypical rollercoaster of isolation from all the essential parts of the experience. 

To say it was hard would be an understatement, but after the initial forced adjustment to a remote life, I was forced to be content without relying on others.

Without having to fear other people’s judgments of me or having to conceal myself in social situations to appear more “acceptable,” I gained independence and confidence within myself that I didn’t know existed.

Then finally — after over a year — the long-awaited return to school arrived. 

I rejoiced in my ability to thrive academically again and I was so relieved to feel like I was really learning. I reconnected with my friends, ate lunch outside, took finals, and then — after a blur of two months — the year ended. My junior year flew by like no other. 

When senior year rolled around, I felt out of place. I couldn’t imagine a world where I belonged to the oldest class at the school. In the beginning, it was odd getting used to, but after a few weeks, it was nothing but a thrill as I planned what the next weekend alongside my friends would hold. 

My friendships were flourishing and I was becoming closer and closer with people I had never really gotten to know. 

Unlike the three years prior, my senior year has felt like a stereotypical high school experience, and I could not be more grateful for it. 

I always thought of myself as someone who was above enjoying things like attending soccer games, getting ready for homecoming with my friends, singing karaoke in someone’s basement, or going to a trampoline park for an 18-year-old’s birthday party. 

The truth is, I’m not. 

I regret that I spent so long depriving myself of the things I love in order to fit a narrative that I created for myself. 

I love that I will graduate high school happier and more fulfilled than I ever felt during my other three years here. It feels like everything has finally come full circle, after all these years of feeling so alone. 

So yes, it was transformative. I am finally content with the person I have become and the life I have chosen to lead. I wouldn’t be the same without La Salle and I wouldn’t be the same without the people I’ve gotten to know here. 

I know that I will look back on my high school experience here, not feeling critical of the insecurities I have felt, but feeling grateful for the memories and lessons that came regardless of them.