High school taught me how to walk with my head held high when my world was crumbling apart. To walk with a swing in my step that told others, "I don't need you."
High school taught me to be afraid of judgement. To change myself just enough to avoid the worst criticism. To worry about what others would think of my dress, my manner, my face, my smile. To watch the faces of others to come to a conclusion about myself. High school told me I was ugly.
High school taught me that I wasn't the best in my field. That I couldn't run the fastest or the longest. That I couldn't be the most liked, or the one with the most potential, or the smartest or the sharpest, or the best dressed. High school told me that I was at the bottom of the food chain, and that there was no changing it.
Some things are a matter of perspective. Because now that I'm older I see that everything I went through, tough though it may have been, was only a phase. An era. A period of growth. Now I see that not every lesson held truth; not every lesson was sound. But each and every lesson was valuable.
Because the lessons I learned in high school were teaching me how to value the good days. To value the wonderful and amazing people who walk into my life each and every day. They taught me to be considerate of others. To not judge a book by its cover. To love others because I don't know what they're going through and because everyone needs a little more love in their lives.
High school taught me that bad days don't last. That those Big n' Bad days that say that there is no future--that there is nothing better than this--are lying. Because after the bad days come the wonderful days. The days that make you so happy you feel like crying and laughing at the same time.
High school taught me that it's ok to be broken. It's ok to cry. It's ok not to always be strong and unbreakable.
High school taught me that my perception of myself is not always accurate. That there is beauty in me, even when I can't see it, even when no one else does. It taught me that I shouldn't change for anyone or pretend to be someone I'm not.
I am still not perfect. Some days I don't feel pretty. Some days I don't feel confident. Some days I fake a smile and hope to fool the world. Sometimes I don't feel smart or good at anything.
On these days, I whisper myself: I am beautiful. I am strong. I am smart. I have more potential than I know, than I can imagine. Just breathe. Breathe. Breathe. It's ok. There is beauty after pain. Everything's gonna be alright.