High School Labels

By Melissa Rodriguez, Staff Writer

High school. The four most vulnerable years of your life. A journey of finding out who you are and what you want to be. It’s only a short period of our lives, so why does it feel like an eternity?

The first day of high school is just as terrifying as the last. We come in with high expectations and illusive hopes of it being like in the movies only to be clearly disappointed at the lack of spontaneous singing and dancing in the halls. Instead, we find ourselves surrounded by people who are just as scared and lost as us. The scary part is not the new setting itself, it’s the uncertainty of not being able to fit in, because at the end of the day that’s all we want, to “fit in”. But what exactly does fitting in mean?

Labels make up the social hierarchy that high school is built upon”

In high school, labels are inevitable. People tend to look at you and automatically classify you by what you wear or how you act or who you hang out with, and most of the time we forget that those things aren’t what we really are. The pretty girl with lots of friends can also be as sad as the boy who sits at lunch alone. The superstar jock who has plenty of girls around him can also be as insecure as the girl who struggles with self image issues. The substance using boy who everyone steers clear of can also be as creative and book smart as the boy who takes four AP classes and lots of extracurriculars. However, we wouldn’t know that because the labels that we put on people prevent us from seeing them for who they really are.

Labels make up the social hierarchy that high school is built upon. Too often we fool ourselves into thinking that what we are labeled as is important because we just want to be at the top of the pyramid. The real problem begins when we start to believe that what we are labeled as is who we are. We become so fixated on trying to fit in that in the process we forget who we really are. No one is just the “prom queen” or the “jock” or the “nerd” or the “loner”. Everyone is more than that, except it’s a lot easier to label someone with one of those words than to actually get to know them.

It’s difficult not to succumb to the urges of putting labels on people. It has become such a common thing that it seems almost strange to not have them. However, once we get out of high school those labels mean absolutely nothing. When you graduate and enter the real world, no one is going to care if you are dressed in the trendiest clothes or how popular you are or the kinds of grades you get. So if it doesn’t matter when we grow up, why is it such a big deal in high school?

Labels are present everywhere, but not as prominently as in high school. Four years is a long time to spend with most of the same people. Some of them will use this time to build themselves up to be someone who looks down on people from the top of the social pyramid, while others count the days and hours that remain until they will be able to start anew. Some people forget that the real world won’t actually care about their label in high school and others can’t wait for the day that no one will remember who they were labeled as. Either way, everyone is worried about labels.