Opinion: The “Romanticized High School Experience” is overrated


Photo by Hyunsol Lim

It is not a common scene in a high school film for the main character to spend their Friday night focusing on schoolwork; but, it would be a great scene to portray what high school is actually like for most students.

Due to watching movies like “Geek Charming,” “Lemonade Mouth,” “Mean Girls,” and “Clueless,” as I grew up, I had a stereotypical view of how I would spend my high school years. I imagined that once I reached high school, all my corny fantasies of going to parties, homecoming and social events depicted in movies would become a reality. However, these films provided an overly romanticized depiction of high school life that undersell the amount of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, peer pressure and all-nighters high school contains. For my first few years of high school, it was not what I had imagined it to be, so I felt disappointed that I hadn’t “fully” experienced my current high school years. 

Despite my fantasies, after finally letting go of my childhood high school expectations, I was able to genuinely enjoy high school by hanging out with people who have the same passions as me while balancing my schoolwork. There’s nothing wrong with attending every party and school event or even having a strong sense of school pride; nevertheless, there’s also nothing wrong with staying at home on weekends, studying instead of partying and hanging out with a small group of friends rather than most of the student population. It all boils down to who the person is, their personality and what they enjoy doing. 

Since high schoolers have busy schedules, attending every single football game, school functions and parties throughout high school is simply not doable for everyone. For certain students, high school is a different experience, and no one should feel as if they haven’t lived up to these unrealistic expectations.

One of the main purposes of high school is to meet diverse people and discover what makes you happy through your own experiences. Instead of overthinking and worrying you didn’t have the best experience, try to focus on discovering your own identity during high school and experiencing life more as you grow. There are so many other opportunities to socialize with people, enjoy parties, events and life overall, and high school is just one of the many memories that you will make.

It’s all right if high school is not like your expectations; the main goals of high school should be to do what makes you happy and enjoy yourself. It’s important for you to know that there will always be chances to create more unforgettable experiences throughout your life.