Remembered for kindness

Abi Wilson '20, Graphics Manager

When I was little and thought about going to high school, I always pictured myself with a pink Barbie flip-phone. Not only was that item the epitome of cool, but also a functional investment of a future veterinarian; ballerina; pro soccer player.
I planned to adorn my pink room with a bright purple boom box where I could play my One Direction CDs as loud as I wanted, before jumping in a yellow VW beetle to get ice cream with my friends.
High school was exactly like what I imagined. Everyone dressed in stilettos and skirts like in Pretty Little Liars, and just like in Glee; when someone had a problem, they just sang about it. I went out for lunch every day at brightly-lit cafes with my friends, and teachers never assigned homework.
That’s what I would like to say to younger me. I’d love to be able to tell her that her life was just like High School Musical and Camp Rock, except better. Because if she were to watch a movie about my actual high school experience, she’d hate it. There were zero mysteries for me and my rag-tag group of friends to investigate.
One memory particularly stuck out to me throughout high school, when we took a poll on what we would like to be remembered as. One of the options was to be remembered as being nice, and a guy said, out loud, “Why would you want to be remembered as nice? People who chose that answer just aren’t good at anything.”
I think that defines my time in high school pretty well. The school system is not built for being nice or kind; it is built to generate good test-takers and “well-rounded students”. High school, as I experienced it, was a prep course for college, and a race to see who could burn themselves out the fastest.
I can’t really blame the person because we’re taught to compete from an early age. And while there may be the occasional poster that promotes teamwork, we are pitted against each other as students. We had to out-score and out-perform each other to get to an elusive “good college.”
I hope, in the future, that students will be treated less like cogs in a machine and more like teenagers trying to figure themselves out. I hope they’re encouraged to care about others beyond comparing notes for tests, because it may feel good to score the highest grade on a test now, but there is always another. It is not through competition that we succeed, but through collaboration.
My mom is the kindest person I know. I can’t even count the times my friends have said “your mom is so nice,”. Whenever I had a bad day at school, my mom would surprise me with a Starbucks iced coffee.
She made me strive to pick myself up on days when I wanted to give up. When the stress of school made me lash out at those around me, she would remind me to breathe, calm down, and take a break.Throughout high school my mom reminded me to be a little kinder, to those around me and to myself. Compassion will get you far in life, a lot farther than competition.
Younger me would be disappointed that high school wasn’t like how she imagined. It, unfortunately, was nothing like she saw or read about, and she’d be really disappointed at the fact that teachers actually teach during lessons.
But I can tell her that she turned out alright in the end. No, she never got a prom movie reveal moment or got to throw up her cap while the credits rolled overhead, but she learned a couple of things, met some great people and realized that she never needed a Barbie flip-phone to be cool.
High School Musical said it best: We’re all in this together.
Thank you to my parents, brother, grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins who taught me to be a good person, first and foremost. Shout out to the homies– meet you at Kung Fu Tea when this is all over.