“Fake it ‘til you make it. But don’t fake it too hard or you’ll lose yourself in the process.”

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Harrison Melton, Staff Writer

Thinking about reflecting on the past four years of my life is surprisingly difficult, especially because I don’t remember most of it — to be completely honest, I’ve probably subconsciously blocked it out (for good reason). All that’s left is a mixture of failed friendships, failed tests and failed attempts to be better. 

That’s not to say there have been no positives. It’s just that when I look at my high school experience, what has fully molded me into who I am was the pressure to be better and the struggle with who I actually am and want to be. 

For the majority of high school I was forced to be self-sufficient, and I trained myself to not need validation or help from anyone — emotionally or physically. I broke off ties with other people and avoided creating new relationships just because I was “working on myself,” which I’ve now realized is a complete lie. 

While I did spend more time inside my messed up psyche, I didn’t actually improve anything in there. It’s still ultimately the same — validation is important, I still don’t completely love myself and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

While my appearance is completely different from when I first walked through these doors, I’m still not sure if I paid more attention to it for self-fulfillment or because I felt obligated to. As soon as quarantine hit, I saw everyone changing their appearance. They got new hair, new clothes, new friends and what seemed like a new and vastly improved, life. All I saw was a chance. A chance to become someone else. After living with myself for so long, I was longing for a change.

I got to work. I dyed my hair — poorly, I may add — got new clothes and began going on little adventures with my friends, just like the people I observed. 

Despite me basically mimicking what I had seen, I felt my confidence grow. I actually took a picture of myself and went, “Wait, this isn’t THAT bad.” 

After I was more assured of myself, I took a step into a sport – which was unheard of for me, especially willingly –  dancing. It introduced me to being in front of a camera where I had to exude confidence, something I had barely learned how to do. While I’m still not totally comfortable with either, it has provided me with an outlet to immerse myself in a new community and boost my confidence — even if it’s artificially at times.

When around those people, there’s no preconceived knowledge of me before we met. I can genuinely be myself and allow them to get to know me for who I am and not who I’ve formed myself to be. 

Everyone changes in high school, and sometimes the way you change is unexpected and unpleasant, but it’s necessary to grow. 

There are going to be times where you’ll have to hide your true personality, whether that’s in front of your friends, family, teachers or even complete strangers. You have to get by in order to make room for yourself to continue upward. 

Sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it. But don’t fake it too hard or you’ll lose yourself in the process.