By Katrina Zerounian
Being in high school is no easy thing. The pressures of doing what you need to do and what you want to do are like trying to stay afloat in a moving sea—you splash around and try to fumble your way to the air, reaching your arms out for anything to hold on to. Even so, high school does have a lot of upsides—you can make great friends and you are given so many opportunities.
Nonetheless, it’s a common struggle for teens to seek balance, a middle ground between having fun and keeping on track with your goals, whether academic or in pursuit of music, art, acting, and everything else in between.
Sometimes, when you ask for advice on how to manage it all, you hear someone tell you, “The most important thing is for you to stay true to yourself.” You nod and say you appreciate the advice, that it helps you. Yet that small, tiny part of you still wonders, “How?”
One of the most difficult parts of being a teenager is finding your place in the world. Being yourself isn’t a light switch that you can flip on and off—it’s a common thread of awareness and authenticity that you carry. Being yourself is looking at both your footprints and your footsteps—it’s loving yourself in your past, present, and future, and loving yourself is acknowledging that you—the real you—is perfectly imperfect.
What does that mean? It means putting down the mask that you wear, letting go of the disguise that you put on to face the world. It’s knowing that it’s okay to be vulnerable, that you need to be the real you, not the you that society wants to see. Don’t feel what you should feel; feel what you do feel.
Finding yourself is an infinite journey, one that we never go through alone. When you are being true to yourself, the relationships you make are much more than simply one-dimensional—they are something beyond, proof that there is meaning in this world, that we are real. So paint with your own color, write with your own pen—don’t use the whitewash or the eraser or the backspace key when you don’t fit in. Be the you that can look into the mirror and say, “This is me. This is the real me who isn’t afraid of being real. This is the me that really lives, really laughs, and really loves.”