High School Expectations vs. Reality 2 of 4: Sophomore Year

Amy-Grace Shapiro, Feature Editor

I want to preface by saying that I have never had a “typical” high school year at Miami Palmetto Senior High. I started high school in 2020, the year synonymous with COVID-19, and since then, although things have slowly deescalated and returned to normalcy, I do not know the typical Palmetto experience. 

On Aug. 23, I walked through the front gates that separated Palmetto from the outside world for the very first time this school year. I wore a pair of tightly laced black high-top Converse that masked my feet as I made my way through the bustling crowd of friends groups as I looked for my own. That whole summer, I brainstormed ways I was going to make the most out of my second year of high school. I vividly remember sitting in my bunk at sleepaway camp during rest hour jotting down points that would make up my “perfect year.” My bulleted lists and extremely detailed plans consisted of enrolling in the most challenging courses, involving myself in numerous clubs and activities and even trying out for a new sport. I dreamt of cruising through the curriculum while maintaining a perfect GPA and outstanding scores and grades.

But life happens. And while I hate to break it to my peppy, wide-eyed camper self, none of those visions came true. While I did take those classes, and I did involve myself in a variety of extracurriculars, this year was not the happy fairy tale I envisioned. 

I had never before been challenged in the ways I was this school year. Although I have always been a hard worker, I have never had to fight so hard to maintain the grades I always earned. Last year, and in previous years, I thought my work was challenging; however, it was nothing compared to the difficulty of sophomore year. Despite countless sleepless and tear-filled nights pouring over my textbook attempting to absorb all the material needed for next period’s class, I ultimately struggled. And it was not because I was not working hard or using my time wisely – rather, I had begun to take on more than I could chew. Slowly, I became a version of myself I had never recognized, spreading myself so thin I could barely breathe. 

I have always been known as the happy girl whose smile could light up any room and whose laugh is so infectious it brings others joy, but my sophomore year tested that. My kind gestures and grin from ear to ear never disappeared, but slowly diminished as I began experiencing the troubles life can bring. Specifically, during the second half of my sophomore year, I felt as though I was trapped in a room slowly being suffocated by my own thoughts. I watched my life slowly crumble during the spring months as I experienced hardship after hardship.

This is not to say that my entire year was bad; in fact, it was quite the opposite. Only when I experienced the bad was I fully able to appreciate and understand the good. In particular, this year I met one of my closest friends, who taught me how to let the light in after several months of keeping my blinds tightly sealed. As we got closer, I felt like I was living again, sunset chasing instead of counting down the minutes to get under the safety of my covers. She taught me how to let go and appreciate every moment, how to find the good in people and proved to me that life is what you make of it. 

To that girl sitting on her top bunk dreaming of what life could be, I am sorry to disappoint you. But I promise, things turned out for the better. To all rising sophomores: follow your heart, do not take yourself too seriously and allow yourself to fully live. Try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle life can bring and begin to appreciate the little things. To my junior year self, who is probably cringing reading this, I know I will be so proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, but remember to stay true to yourself, no matter what.