I’m a young adult who still lives in her hometown (unfortunately). For the past seven years, post graduation from high school, I’ve seen a few of my classmates in public and they often comment on how much I’ve changed. I often find this weird considering I still think not much has changed about me since high school. I mean, my music choices are still the same, my political views are still the same, I’m still weird. Then I realized, they’re only talking about my physical appearance. Like I’ve gotten tattoos and piercings, I have locs, I lost weight and fitness is my new groove.
However, I didn’t really change, I only changed physically and somewhat mentally as well. As a result of this, many of my classmates from high school have resorted to calling me a “poser” or “fake” because I have a more alternative look now. Which is insulting because many people didn’t know or even got to know me in high school and are only making assumptions of what they remembered of me. This is what brings me to writing this article because you can’t really base someone on how they were in high school.
One reason why you shouldn’t judge someone based on who they were in high school is because of bodily autonomy.
Now, not everyone was fortunate enough to have parents that believed in self expression and not every kid was rebellious enough to go against their parents orders. If your parents were anything like mine, then self-expression was probably a no. I look alternative now but back when I was a teen, I wasn’t even allowed to wear black, unless it was in a conservative style. I couldn’t wear shirts that featured Hendrix or Marley because It related back to drug paraphernalia. I couldn’t wear jeans with rips on them. I’ve wanted locs since I was 15 but I didn’t get them until 21 because of stereotypes associating locs with marijuana use. I didn’t even get my first pair of converse until my senior year of high school after I begged them too. This wasn’t in the school’s dress code policy but my parents dress code policy. They were very rigid on my appearance because to them, I am an example of them and according to my mom, “the way I present myself in public is how people know the home I am from”.
Came to find out later that a childs’ appearance has nothing to do with the home they are from. Unless the family is poor, and the child constantly wears rags to school or is malnourished, no one is gonna look at an alternative kid and say, “oh, that nose ring! They must come from a bad family.” Also why are judging someone with a nose ring? What have they done to you?
Even in public, if my mom saw someone who looked alternative, she just assume they came from a bad home or they do drugs. The funny part of that is, the kids that did do drugs or engaged in under-aged drinking were the kids that were involved in sports and took honors/AP classes, the ones that were considered “all-american”. Not saying that all the kids were like this but you just shouldn’t judge someone based on their appearance.
When I got to college, I started to dressing the way I wanted to. My parents weren’t around and I started stretching my ears, got a few piercing and started dressing more alternative. I started to love the way I looked and I didn’t care what anyone thought about my appearance.
Another reason why you shouldn’t judge people based on how they were like in high school is because of high school cliques.
We have all heard of the expression “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are” and thats pretty much how people took you in high school. You’re association with others in high school can make you or break you. We judge a person and act like we know all about their life based on who they hang out with. This is not just exclusive to high school but throughout all aspects of life. We typically hang with people that have the same thought and views as us.
However in high school, alot of us acted like we knew someone’s whole life based on who they were associated with in high school.
Now, I hung out with the loners and weird kids. However, in that group of weird kids, we had one or two “goodie two-shoes”. As in, they never drank or involved themselves in marijuana use. They were considered prudes and because of this, I was considered a prude. Even when I tried to distance myself from them I was still still considered a “goodie-two shoes” even though I was just quiet.
Since, I was associated with these people I didn’t get to experience much in my teens. A lot of people didn’t invite me to things and wasn’t asked to do certain things because I was considered a prude even though I wasn’t.
The final reason why you shouldn’t judge someone based on how they were in high school is because people will change. Everyone goes through different, experimental phases in life. It’s all apart of the human experience. I knew people that were “against the system” who ended up working corporate jobs. I knew kids that partied hard become devoutly Christian. I’ve seen the very preppy kids have their emo phase at 21. People who use to tell others to “kill themselves” or they were just straight up vile or mean to other kids are the ones that act so sweet and would often talk about sharing “good vibes”. Even conservative political pundit, Kaitlin Bennett, was a wannabe scene-queen back in her teens. It doesn’t mean they are fake for doing so, they’re growing and changing and they are allowed to grow and change.
On a final note, high school is a small part of your life. Alot of us didn’t have the chance to be our true selves in high school. Also, just because people change doesn’t mean they’re fake. People allowed to explore themselves, people are allowed to try new things. So to judge someone based on how they were in school is unfair. Also If you judge someone based on how they were in high school, then high school was the peak for you.