Millennial and Gen Zers are the biggest new group on the market, which makes it a no-brainer for networks like Netflix and the CW to target. Teen dramas and rom coms are making a comeback, stars cruising through high school sets within the small screen, with Noah Centineo becoming the new John Cusack.
But whether you’re Sierra Burgess, Laura Jean Covey or Betty Cooper, the message is “high school is cool,” and that “everyone’s having fun.” Sure, they might not have originally thought so, but the climax of the plot always goes somewhere along the lines of “you’ll miss it when you’re gone.” Well, for me, I’m glad I’m done with high school.
I’ve had the same best friend since fifth grade— one of the only people that bothered to get to know me after I came in as the "new kid" in fourth grade. Other kids were already set up playing with the children of their parents' Pilates partners, carpool lanes mapped out by the same groups that their parents ran with in high school. It all went up from there. Middle school had more people, more people to pretend to be friends with me when it was convenient for them and more “cool kids.” The lines of entitlement were set up before they were born, in prenatal yoga and wine nights on their suburban patios.
I thought high school was as good as it got. Rather than penned into clusters for classes, everyone mixed around like a tossed salad. I took classes I was interested in. Teachers stopped treating us like children. I had friends. We hung out after school, sometimes. We had some of the same classes and ate lunch together, talking about the hardships of the day, sometimes.
As you age, you evolve. That’s only natural. So, as high school went on, friend-groups shifted. I still kept in touch and waved to people in the hallways but my best friend and I grew more distant. I felt more isolated as time went on, as I was surrounded by people that I couldn’t really talk to.
Movies don’t always reign true when it comes to the idealism of high school (never mind the fact that the students are never played by teenagers anyway). Sometimes things don’t all fall together in high school. Sometimes, better is as good as it gets.
I was never the underdog prom queen. My school didn’t even have a prom queen. I didn’t have a perfect summer romance. I worked at a day camp near my house 40 hours a week for below minimum wage. I went to Friday dinner at my dad’s house every week. That’s a similar mediocre high school experience that most people look back on their childhoods with, and that’s okay.
When graduation came around, I went off to college in the city, leaving all the “cool kids” behind. In fact, I go to arguably the best school out of my graduating class.
I don’t miss high school.
College has opened me up as a person, socially and academically. When walking down campus, hanging out with friends in our dorm for movie night or reporting on protests around town, I feel like my best self. I am confident and accomplished. I only talk to two people from my high school and two, I've learned, is more than enough. We get together for lunch at cute cafes with genuine smiles and catch up on life. High school itself is so irrelevant now that we’ve all grown up and improved upon ourselves so much.
I’m not that same person I was in high school. I don’t think most of us are. It’s a stepping stone to real-life, but it isn’t the whole picture. Life gets so much better. Sometimes it’s just hard to see that on the small screen.
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