Starting high school

The many pressures of an incoming freshman

By Dinah Rawson
Reader Contributor

I’m starting classes at Sandpoint High School next week and, honestly, I’m terrified. There is so much pressure we face as teenagers — from the mysterious world of social media, to thinking seriously about your future. High school is a place where all these pressures and expectations hit you at once.

Dinah Rawson. Courtesy photo.

During eighth grade, we were expected to choose the classes that best suited our future. Future? How am I supposed to know what I want to do at this point in my life? So I spent sleepless nights contemplating what classes to take in high school. Now I want to change my schedule again. 

I’ve always gotten straight As, but now my grades hold a higher level of importance. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to uphold my previous standard. I have so many passions and, suddenly, there is pressure to choose one and stick with it for the rest of my life.

There was quite a lot of peer pressure in middle school and I expect the same or more in high school. As a girl, there is pressure to walk a fine line between sexuality and innocence. If you step off the line at any point there is name calling. I hold my head high and dress in a way that makes me feel comfortable, not in a way that best suits my peers. There’s pressure to conform to society’s idea of “cool.” 

There’s also your relationship status to think about. Previously, I was in a seven-month relationship and I felt like I lost myself, forgetting what was most important to me. Despite being kind, this guy mostly wasted my time.

No matter what, there’s so much drama in school. There always has been, but it multiplies when you add pubescent humans. Instead of worrying about my grades, I find myself worrying about keeping my friends and whether or not people like me. In high school, there are twice as many people, so one can assume that the drama will also be twice as much. How will I be able to focus on my goals and my future with this upcoming mess? 

I’m an aspiring flutist, artist, writer and mathematician. With all this pressure, it’s no wonder my peers inflict self-harm and suffer from nicotine addictions. On top of that, everyone communicates electronically.

Like everyone else, I have social media. This is a huge pressure by itself. There are pages on Instagram that glorify suicide. With social media, girls compare themselves to countless versions of our society’s idea of beauty. I confess, I have been swimming in self doubt and insecurity at times. Making things more difficult, it’s normal for guys to ask for nudes. I’ve been asked by over 20 guys. It’s almost common knowledge that if a guy says “hey” on Snapchat after 10 p.m., then he wants nudes. 

My usual procedure is to block whoever is asking so I won’t be harassed anymore or shamed for saying no. In eighth grade, I was asked for nudes by a junior in high school and I sent him a naked baby picture. He was pissed.

Most of the guys who ask me for naked pictures are people I barely even know. Sometimes, however, they are friends that I thought I could trust. I thought I had a platonic friendship with one boy until he sent me a text saying, “Hey, I’m horny, send nudes.” It was frustrating how rude and demanding he was. I blocked his number and ignored him in person. Of course the incident ruined our friendship. Another guy suggested that it would benefit me to practice sending nudes to him. Since my goal in life isn’t to be a porn star, I didn’t take him up on the offer.

Clearly social media is full of pressures and hard to navigate, so why use it? Beyond the fact that it’s how everyone communicates these days, it’s a great way to express yourself. I love social media because I can use it as a platform for activism. I can show the world my music and art. There is something incredibly thrilling about putting yourself out there. I enjoy spreading love and positivity to multiple people at a time. Social media isn’t all bad. However, it’s wise to take breaks. It can be positive and uplifting as long as you use it correctly.

Overall, I’m afraid of high school because of the immense amount of pressure. Not only do I have to worry about my grades and schoolwork, but also things like reputation and social status. I have to try my best to remember what is really important to me and not get lost in the drama. My goal is success, but the obstacles can feel quite overwhelming.

Dinah Rawson will be a freshman at Sandpoint High School in the 2019-2020 academic year.

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