High School Expectations vs. Reality 1 of 4: Freshman Year

Sara Paredes, Copy Editor

As my freshman year of high school comes to a close, I reflect and learn from the experiences I have had throughout the last 180 days of my life. While I had always been told that high school would be nothing like the movies, the expectations that I, a wide-eyed freshman, had for myself upon entering Miami Palmetto Senior High on Aug. 23, 2021, proved starkly different from the reality. My freshman year has brought its challenges, both academically and socially, and has taught me a number of things about myself and those around me, making me better equipped to overcome them. 

I am a girl with intense goals and big aspirations. For me, starting high school was the first step towards “world domination” — as my family often jokes. Growing up, I was surrounded by high-achieving family members and accomplished older cousins, each having graduated from Palmetto. Therefore, from a young age, I idolized and looked up to these people in my life, with the ultimate goal of making my family proud while simultaneously fulfilling my own dreams. As soon as the year started, I devoted myself to classes, joined clubs, ran for student government and took every opportunity I could to get involved. I was, and still am, fiercely determined to leave my mark on Palmetto, the surrounding community and eventually, the world. However, sometimes this ambition gets the best of me. The reality is, at times, I find myself under severe self-imposed pressure and anxiety, losing sight of the present and setting unnecessarily high standards for myself. My freshman year has helped me recognize the significance of prioritizing my own mental health, and I have slowly realized that by rushing toward my goals, I only increase the amount of stress I place on myself. 

While I am still determined and motivated to meet the goals on my path to “world domination,” I am learning how to do so with patience. For any incoming freshmen who may resonate with this sense of pressure and expectation from family members, self-imposed or not, I say this: do not allow an older sibling, cousin or friend’s accomplishments or expectations to distract you from being authentically yourself, and do not let comparison be the thief of your joy. Make time for yourself, set your own goals and pave your own path. You do not owe it to anyone to meet expectations or fill the shoes of those who came before you and do not place yourself under insufferable pressure to prove otherwise. 

My freshman year has helped me realize that I am human. I have made mistakes, but am determined to grow in spite of them. I have allowed my ambition to get the best of me, yet have learned the importance of self-control and patience, despite my intense drive and ambitions. With three years remaining at Palmetto, I know that I will continue to work hard and prioritize my goals, no matter how large or small they may be, and I can say with confidence that I truly do look forward to the rest of my time as a Panther.