There IS Life after High School

I read an article a while back about a teenager who posted a video on the website itgetsbetter.org an organization devoted to helping struggling teens, particularly gay and lesbians, who were suffering constant bullying. The boy, Jamey Rodemeyer, despite participating on this site and having parental support, decided to take his own life at the age of 14 (source). I then learned of another story a few days later where an 11-year-old boy with a muscle disorder committed suicide because of a mugging and consistent bullying each time he went to school (source). These particular stories might be dated now, but similar accounts occur every year. They are tragic to me because I know what it’s like to be on the lower ranks in middle and high school. I can’t say that I received the same level of bullying that these boys did, but I am familiar with the dark thoughts that swim through ones mind. They tend to go one of two ways; either you picture your tormenter dying in extremely brutal ways, or you picture ending your own pain through similarly brutal, though perhaps quicker, methods.

Most of the blame for these incidents should fall on the bullies in question. They are the direct line of abuse. Maybe it stems from their parents or siblings or some other psychological disorder, but in the end, it is their behavior that pushes other teens over the edge. However there are others at fault here. It bothers me to no end how much emphasis is put on high school by mainstream entertainment. A new television show that will be all about music, lets set it in high school! Let’s reboot Spiderman with a new actor, director and story; it’ll be set in high school! Let’s write a book about a supernatural romance between a girl and a vampire; he’ll be in high school for centuries!

While it is true that not all shows, movies, and books rely on high school as their setting, it seems to be the go-to backdrop for mainstream storytelling. I’m not trying to point a finger at any one product as the cause of teen suicides but, rather, there seems to be a message going around that High School is something legendary that will be remembered for ages and set the benchmark for the rest of your life. A lot of this is just straight marketing; the biggest audience with money to burn (or parents’ money to burn) is teenagers, but I believe it’s sending the wrong message; that high school is important.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, education is very important to me and I encourage everyone to graduate and then pursue higher education. That’s not the focus of this article. The focus is to emphasize, to people who are in high school, that there is way more to life. I hated high school. I hated the people who were obnoxious for no apparent reason. I hated the drama that came with a high school relationship, and I hated all the weird things that were changing with my body. I was an introverted nerd, so that place wasn’t exactly my stomping grounds, it was hell.

In High School anyone wider than a twig is fat. Anyone without fashionable clothes is a scrub and anyone who spends more than a few minutes in the bathroom is a chronic masturbator. The problem is that everyone in high school is insecure about one thing or another, and because of the crazy, off-the-wall hormones, we take it out on each other with little or no filter. There is a pecking order and nobody wants to be on the bottom. But do you know what that pecking order translates to after high school? Squat! It doesn’t matter if you were at the top or the bottom because nobody looks at your resume and says “we’re very sorry but we can’t hire you because you were a scrub in high school”. Some people may carry their high school mentalities with them, but most adults are focused on their own lives and just want everything to work out okay.

Did life for you get better, worse, or stay the same after high school?

  • Better
  • Worse
  • Same
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Higher Education

After my senior year in high school, something incredible happened. The cloud of depression began to lift and my outlook on everything grew increasingly more positive. I encourage everyone to go to college because the difference between the two forms of education is staggering. In college, everyone is there for the same reason; to learn. It costs money to learn in college, and while I believe it should be lowered or abolished altogether (so more people can learn) it also weeded out a lot of the hateful people who I ran into in high school; people who didn’t want to be there and only excelled at making my life miserable. Every college student is so overworked that they don’t have time to treat each other like crap. While I’m sure there are a few exceptions, it’s the difference between 1 in 5 people being a jerk in college verses 4 in 5 being a jerk in High School. Trust me, you notice the difference and it makes life a heck of a lot less stressful.

Of course, I don’t have any statistics to back any of this up, it’s entirely based on my own opinion of both high school and college, but I wrote this hub because I hate to read and hear about more teen suicides.

High school, and the people who make it terrible, are not worth dying over. They’re petty and are only taking out aggressions on you to deal with their own problems. Deep down they fear they are inferior in some way and cannot cope with who they are, so they lash out at others who display it openly. They think (unconsciously) that if they prevent someone else from expressing themselves, they then justify their own repressed feelings.

There is so much more of life left after High School. It is little more than a bump in the road; a footnote that says “some crap happened here”. I just wish I could convey that message to struggling teens. Again, I can’t say that I experienced the same level of teasing and bullying, but I do know how angering it can be. I’ve had those dark thoughts and I’ve wondered if I could go on. High School is a crossroads, one that is meant to be passed over, not seriously dwelt upon.

Additional Tips

  • Survive through high school. You don’t have to enjoy it, you don’t have to ‘make it count’, you don’t even have to feel bad when you miss the supposedly ‘big’ events like prom. I didn’t go to my prom and do I regret it? Nope. There is no rule book that says you have to do all these things. People lead perfectly normal lives even though they didn’t do the traditional ‘high school experience’. If you miss something, move on.
  • Join a club of like-minded individuals. Friends are a good source of support, but it’s very important that they be friends you can trust. I made the mistake of having friends I couldn’t trust, and ended up getting stabbed in the back so much that it’s forever stunted my friend-making abilities. Only in the last years of high school, and on, have I been able to find some people who I feel I can trust. If they make you feel bad about yourself, they’re not your friend, period.
  • After high school, if they weren’t your friend, avoid them like the plague. One thing I’ve learned about all the people I hated in high school is that they don’t change after high school. It could be 30 years later and they still act like a jerk. Distance yourself from the toxic people entirely and never go to reunions. Also, don’t think that you’re amazing success will ‘show’ them. You could be the president and they would still make you feel like that bullied teen ages ago. Avoid forever.
  • Screw Facebook. You know what Facebook is? It’s a digital high school. Suddenly all the drama, insults and lies are back in full force. Thanks a lot, Mark Zuckerberg. But that doesn’t mean you have to participate. If you have the stamina for it, you can micromanage your connections to make sure no toxic people get into the group, but if you don’t want to deal with it, just say no to facebook. (This applies to a lot of social networking websites as well.)

Additional Resources

  • A website for gay and lesbian teens that sends the message that acceptance of your sexuality and life in general, gets better after high school:
    http://www.itgetsbetter.org/
  • USA National Suicide Hotline:
    1-800-784-2433 (For thoughts of suicide)
    1-800-273-8255 (For talking)
  • Reach out is a website for sharing stories of life’s hardships to establish a community that helps each other get through tough times:
    http://us.reachout.com/wecanhelpus/#

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Comments 7 comments

Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

This is such a great hub that I'm voting all across and Up. ALL young people need to see this and know it will get better. My high school career was good and it got better. Those friends of mine who hated high school, it got better for them too. Now in my 30's I always tell middle/high school kids that there is life after school...but I don't think they pay me any attention. I hope your writing gets through to them. Excellent!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

Sorry, I didn't vote all across. Nothing about this is funny...I forgot that one was there.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

Ardie - Thank you for the kind words. I was worried about the reception of this hub because it deals with a very sensitive subject, but if there is anything I can do, at all, to convince struggling teens that life gets better after high school, then it was worth it.


Rusty C. Adore profile image

Rusty C. Adore 4 years ago from Michigan

Fantastic hub, M.T. My high school experience was absolutely terrible. I started my Freshman year with friends and hopes for the "best years of my life" (or so TV would have us believe)but those friends changed, I changed. Lies, stress, family troubles... all of those things add up over time and it happens to everyone. I lost the friends I did have and it hurt so badly that I didn't even try to make new ones for a long time. I cut myself off from people and thought that it would never get better (you certainly hit that nail on the head, that is how it felt.) I hated school so much that I had absolutely zero interest in pursuing higher education because I assumed that it would be just like high school. Oh how wrong I was!! College was an amazing experience for me. You are so right, the people in college are completely different from those who surround you in high school.

Life DOES get better after high school and I hope, hope, HOPE that kids who are feeling at the end of their ropes find your article and feel uplifted by it. I hope that they know they are not alone in their feelings. Thank you for providing links to where they can go for help. :)


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

Rusty - Thank you for the compliment and the comment! I know there is a large group of people out there who hated high school, but made it out to lead much happier lives. I hope that they can help to convey that it's just four years to be blazed through and then, the people, forgotten. Whether it's college, a job, or something else, life starts AFTER high school.


attorneyblog profile image

attorneyblog 4 years ago from USA

You have nothing to worry about this hub. For me, this is very timely and won't never outdated as long as there are "high schools". You just being true to your self.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

attorneyblog - Thank you for the comment! I suppose it's true that this will be an issue as long as there are high schools. It's a shame that there isn't anything we can do to physically make the teenage years less stressful. It's like getting a painful shot; there isn't anything you can do to prevent the pain; you just have to grit your teeth and survive through it. That's why when doctors ask me if I want them to say when they're going to do something painful, I tell them to just do it and I'll deal with the pain as it comes.

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