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Looking back: high school sucks

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Elizabeth Rose Szpytek

More stories from Elizabeth Rose Szpytek

November 7, 2017
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Looking back: high school sucks


No offense, but I can’t wait to never see most of you again. It’s not personal, I guess, it’s just … kind of how it goes.

These last four years were not filled with happy memories for me; other people spent their spring breaks going on road trips, having bonfires and doing other montage-worthy cool teen things with friends, and my junior year spring break was spent stuck in a hospital because my brain decided that I didn’t really feel like living anymore. I have this vivid memory of turning my phone on after getting out of inpatient and seeing that I didn’t receive a single text asking where I had been. If that didn’t make me feel like the most popular girl at school, I don’t know what would.

I remember the feeling of my insides trying to get to my outsides if I saw even a glimpse of myself in the mirror. And I remember the panic attack in the third floor A hallway bathroom that lasted so long, a hall monitor came in and asked if I was having diarrhea.

I remember staring at the ground as I walked through the halls because I was terrified to meet people’s eyes.

I remember the gut wrenching feeling every time I realized I was the only person without a partner in gym class.

I remember the time I first realized that I was really not ‘fine,’ sitting on the couch in the group therapy room in the D hallway.

I remember the first time I skipped lunch sophomore year because the day before, a kid at my lunch table called me a faggot and my friends didn’t defend me. I remember going to my counselor the year after, requesting to drop my lunch period in lieu of a study hall so I would be able to avoid the shame of not having anyone to sit with.

I remember the night I found out my friend from summer camp killed himself.

I remember the funeral on a rainy, Monday afternoon.

I remember a lot of not-so-fun stuff about high school. And there’s not some magic turnaround, there’s no “but here are all the good times” moment; however, there is a “but.”

I remember a lot of not-so-fun stuff about high school, but I learned a lot. Like, I have grown into a person I’m proud of being; I learned that I need to be in a state of constant growth, adaptation and evolution.

More than just facts and dates, I learned skills and ideas. I learned that education is something I must actively engage in and choose to do. I learned that, yeah, some teachers really do have whack philosophy on education and are there to just get a paycheck.

I learned that I shouldn’t pay $100,000 for college.

I learned to communicate. I learned to take care of myself, physically and emotionally. I learned that in order to create an effective resistance against oppression I need to pick and choose my battles.

I learned that the only thing social media does for me is make me even more alone.

I learned that survival precedes morality, and because of that, fights for justice are a long term struggle. I learned that there are things in this world that I actually care about, things that give me purpose. I learned that even if I have trouble connecting to a lot of individual humans, I have a powerful love for humanity.

I learned that no one is noticing the tiny imperfections in me that I obsess over. I learned that I don’t need to look attractive to have value.

I learned that some teachers that people say suck are actually really cool.

I learned that I’m allowed to assert myself and ask people to call me Elizabeth rather than let them choose to call me Liz.

I learned to grieve.

I learned that 80 percent of the time I should probably just shut up. I learned that social anxiety can sometimes manifest in people talking too much.

I learned that my music taste is not universal, which is totally fine. I learned that I don’t really relate to a lot of my peers, but that doesn’t mean I have to dislike them.

I learned that there are a lot of people who care for me.
I remember my final for ceramics last semester. I remember that I somehow overslept and came in after everyone besides a few teachers had already left the building. I remember hanging out in the ceramics classroom, talking with the teacher, cleaning the equipment and counters to prep for the next semester. I remember talking with her for quite a while even after we had finished cleaning.  I remember, she said, “What you are doing [being an out trans person] is really f***ing hard. High school’s hard enough as it is, but what you’re doing takes bravery and intelligence. You do it with such grace. I’m so proud of you.” I remember how good that felt.

I hate high school. I don’t hate what high school did to me.


This article is from a series, “Looking back.”

Find the others here:

Sarah Major

Jayna Bardahl

Vince Vena

Matthew Hollendonner

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Looking back: high school sucks