To Be Continued

As much as it pains me to say this, I do watch the occasional Disney Channel programming (not always on my own accord, mind you). Disney has been airing one of their latest DCOMs (that’s Disney Channel Original Movie, for those who have actual lives), “Geek Charming,” with extra vigor in recent weeks. The film is centered around the trials and tribulations of two star-crossed teenagers in a high school where the popular kids are so above the geeks that they literally sit on a platform. Usually, I would just forget about the movie the next day, but between the incessant air time it has gotten and the lack of decent programming on in the early hours of Saturday (and I might have been under the influence of large amounts of caffeine), the dynamic between the two categories of students had me comparing it to what my high school experience has been like. I was one of those teens who grew up watching movies that gave a glorified version of high school that only Hollywood can portray.

Before I even started my freshmen year, my head was clouded with visions of the great times my friends and I would have at sporting events, school dances, and, of course, the freedom that would follow along. I thought that if I could just get to high school, my life would magically become the exciting stuff that people pay to watch. Because Hollywood wouldn’t lie to me, right? If you have not yet picked up on it, I was very naive, because when I got to high school it was anything but silver screen material. My classes were harder, the teachers were scarier, and the cafeteria food was still, well, cafeteria food. Quite honestly I wanted my money back from the Hollywood for lying to me.

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But, like most things do, it got better. I made new friends, I finally found some direction of where I belong in the huge sea of pupils that is my high school and before I knew it, I was sitting in the large auditorium listening to directions on how to order my cap and gown. What just four years ago had seemed eons away is suddenly a few calendar pages away. That’s when it hit me: Hollywood’s version of high school isn’t so different from real life. You have the optimistic beginning that is freshmen year, then comes the rising action of sophomore and junior year, and finally the climax of the movie: senior year. You might fight with friends and you might clash with a teacher or two.

It is not always pretty and it is not always exciting, but it is real and tangible. It is something special that cannot be recreated exactly the same. Maybe there isn’t the drama level of the cringe-worthy Burn Book pages floating through the school like in “Mean Girls,” but even without all of that crazy, almost any senior could say that the past four years of their life could provide a lifetime of material for bad “real life” movies. In the end, does it really matter if it isn’t a crazy, insane, plot-twisting page-turner? Who cares if sometimes it seems like the most boring or the worst time of your life? It is your life and your story, and every single story deserves to be told. I will be the first to admit that high school can be rough. I’ve lost friends, I’ve publicly embarrassed myself (more times than I’d like to admit), and at times I thought it was too much.

But haven’t we all had things that we thought were too tough to overcome? And it isn’t like one mistake can turn the entire experience into disaster; for instance, this year I also grew closer to the friends who really matter, I saw other people embarrass themselves, and in the end I know that other people have gone through far worse things than my high school career. I can guarantee that when I am wearing my white cap and gown surrounded by most of the people I have spent the past four years with, no “perfect,” made-up Hollywood high school experience could even hope to hold a candle to mine. It may not have been the most exciting or the coolest, but it was my senior year, my story, and I wrote the script. I wouldn’t trade any of it. I know that when I walk out of the auditorium on Commencement Day, diploma in hand, my life will not fade to black.

There will be no big ending, no credits, no edgy finale music. On the contrary, the curtains will rise on the next installment of my life starring a post-high school me. I am ready for my sequel. Are you ready for yours?