The class of 2023 has lost a lot due to the pandemic but I think it has caused us to value our senior year even more. We grew up with the expectation of high school being this amazing, fun environment but it has been nothing like the movies. At least in my experience.
There is one part of every high school cliché movie that has always been spot on, when you see how competitive and mean people get during prom and homecoming nominations. Never in my life did I think that would have happened to me.
For those who don’t know me, I am Ali Nguyen and I’ve been on newspaper staff for 3 years and I am now the editor-in-chief. I try to use this publication as a way to voice out my opinions along with my peers. I see it as an opportunity to say things on a platform that most people do not have. My job is to make sure the student body at Wichita South High gets their opinions across. So, this is exactly what I’m doing.
I was recently nominated as homecoming queen along with three amazing individuals. At first, I was excited. Again with the clichés, the movies had set me up for failure. The first thing I did was design a campaign poster, the same thing that the other nominees were doing. I also started collecting a series of videos for a TikTok. It was fun, I was interacting with others in the building and getting to know more students. I even participated in spirit week and signed myself up for Powderpuff.
Every person that was on Homecoming Court has experienced different things but I believe we can all agree we’ve heard at least one negative thing about ourselves during this week.
It took a toll on my mental health when I heard strangers talking about me. It ranged from “she’s not pretty enough” to “she doesn’t deserve it”. Being a teenager in this generation has caused personal image issues, but hearing these things from my own peers during a time that was meant to be celebrated hurt. Having people tear down our campaign posters also hurt.
While I’m certain that the other nominees were also affected negatively, the main purpose of this story is to talk about my experience and how it impacted me.
Truth is, it impacted me more than I’d like to admit. Writing this and letting go of my pride is one of the most difficult things I’ve done so far in high school. Being able to openly tell my entire high school that their words have an impact on me, knowing that I have to rise above it, is challenging.
Throughout this week, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter how others perceive me. I know my accomplishments, I know how I make a difference within my community. My friends, family, and teachers know my progress and that’s all that matters. The only person who changes your view on yourself, is you. You are the only person who truly knows everything about yourself and you determine whether or not you need to change. There is always going to be a percentage of individuals who have something negative to say, but it is your choice to listen to them or not.
So I choose not to listen.