All in this together: A hopeless romantic reflects on high school


High school came as a bit of a surprise when I grew up religiously watching Disney movies every weekend. I remember counting down the years until high school started, excited to live out my High School Musical dream. However, when that day finally arrived, I realized the way movies and TV shows portrayed high school was completely different than the reality of how those four years actually panned out. 


Although the pandemic took away a solid portion of my high school career, I truly believe that my experience would have never amounted to these classic movies that show high school in an excessively positive light. 


My all time favorite movie is High School Musical. I remember watching that movie with high hopes that high school would be the best time of my life, specifically the school spirit and camaraderie portrayed by the East High Wildcats. Even though I spent half the movie swooning over Zac Efron, what really grasped my attention was the excitement surrounding sports games. However, when I got to high school I noticed the lack of spirit ETHS has. 


As I sat in the stands of my first football game, I expected to be surrounded by cheering fans, however as I looked around it felt more like a basic social gathering. People were either sitting on their phones, or talking to their friends about their weekend plans, and barely anyone was repping ETHS gear. Not only that, but I remember the games always feeling a little cliquey. 


Friend groups in high school were one of the few things that somewhat lived up to my expectations. Not to the extent that they are portrayed in movies like Mean Girls with friend group names, but exclusive all the same. Although I blame this partly on COVID, and the lack of branching out because of it, throughout the years everyone had a set group of friends and it didn’t really seem to change. 


I went into high school as maybe one of the biggest hopeless romantics you have ever met. Why? Because I grew up watching movies like 10 Things I Hate About You. These movies would always show high school relationships as dreams: the jock falling in love with the nerd, promposals, school dances, the whole shabang.


As the years went on, my mindset around relationships in high school strayed far away from my expectation to be like Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona and I was sucked into the norms of hook-up culture, talking stages, and situationships. I was the girl who once dreamed about being taken out on a real date, and now I cringe at the thought of going out for ice cream or dinner. I wish I didn’t, but spending the last 4 years of my life hearing the opinions of people saying “dating is stupid” or “why waste your time in a relationship when high school is a time to get around” has drilled itself into my own mentality. 

Although I wish my younger self knew how different my high school experience would be from High School Musical, Mean Girls, and 10 Things I Hate About You, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I met some of my best friends, accomplished so many goals, and have almost crossed everything off my bucket list.