Finding strength in numbers


Anna Ludvingsun '20, Staff Writer

There is a common fear among individuals associated with having to adapt to a new environment. In a stable setting, we become increasingly comfortable with the people and places around us. Over time, we feel free to express ourselves without barriers. Being yanked out of that environment can trigger fear and discomfort. These were my immediate feelings entering high school.
The experience is bizarre. From the ages of 14 to 19, we are constantly changing physically and mentally. You may come out of high school as a completely different person than when you walked in. I entered freshman year with all of my guards up. My older peers oozed with judgement, so I began to worry about the opinions of everyone else around me, instead of my own. I had not expected to leave high school having formed such strong bonds with so many of my classmates. I was not nearly prepared for the hardships we would share.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the minor judgements of others had little meaning. We spent hour long classes debating over controversial topics, where every student arguing had a completely different viewpoint. I noticed that none of the students shared all the same opinions, even if they shared some. No one experiences the same upbringing, so we each hold a unique perspective. Once I had this realization, I stopped worrying about what others thought and began to express myself openly.
I’ve learned that it is quite difficult for people to talk about things they feel strongly towards. There is overlap between logic and emotions when it comes to controversial subjects. Many want to be able to express their views openly, but have a hard time hearing a fact or opinion that contradicts their own. This decreases the quality of our conversations. It’s a problematic error in the human psyche.
However, there is true power to a group of people sharing a common belief. It can bring people together to fight for the better good. I watched students come together to form social and political clubs, so they could voice their views on how to better our world. My fellow NHS participants and I volunteered to help the sick and needy each week. Environmental clubs formed to discuss important topics like how to clean up our lake. These groups allowed young people to put their voices to a real cause.
In times of great loss, we saw a lack of sympathy from our superiors. I watched my classmate get dress-coded while crying in the hallway over the loss of a fellow student. I witnessed a memorial for my deceased friend get covered up with white paint to prevent suicide glorification. Now, I may not see my graduating class in cap and gowns, even after the current pandemic is over.
I was surprised to see how quickly students came together in these times. My fellow classmates and I expressed unconditional support to our crying friend, unlike our superiors. Several students came together after dark to repaint the memorial that was wrecked. We comforted each other and prayed for our lost friend. My graduating class salvaged future memories by planning our senior prom for a later date. When we were hit with loss, our voices were silenced. But in these moments, we came together as a cohesive group to right their wrongs. We proved that we are better together than we are apart.
Initially, I entered high school unsure of what relationships I would have with my peers. Each year, I experienced things that I will never forget. I experienced love, frustration, satisfaction and exhaustion. Most importantly, I experienced endless support from my friends and classmates. I have spent the last four years learning about myself and others. I will leave South knowing that with the union of a strong group of individuals, any wound can be healed.