Changing Lenses

November 12, 2016
By , Congers, NY

A true high school story is one that consists of cliques, ups and downs, and an inevitable struggle to rise above diminished expectations. I'm not going to sugar coat what I've been through, because it’s nothing short of a s***load of mistakes and more mistakes. It was a constant struggle, a struggle in my own head. Do I live life the way my parents want me to, or do I let my choices mold me into who I want to be? Who am I? I am the son of parents that come from different values and culture. I grew up with the Indian culture instilled in me; I was raised to be exceptional, above average, and to exceed the norm. But how? How does that happen when all I want to do is fit in, fit in with the American culture. Being a “normal” kid was a constant struggle, a constant balancing act between being American and Indian in my head.

Freshman Year: I came into high school intimidated- intimidated by the expectations, intimidated by the idea creating a reputation, intimidated of the pressure to fit into a social clique. “Who do you hang out with?” is the typical conversation starter in high school. Was I a jock? A nerd? A pothead? An outcast? When you are so pressured to fit in at my age, your only option is to change who you are. This leads to you going to parties and experimenting with things like marijuana, alcohol, and “vaping,” just to fit into the “in-crowd.” I walked into my first party nervous as f***. My sweaty palms were shoved in my pocket and I stood around trying to figure out what to do. There were girls dressed...well, not like how they usually do in school and guys too drunk to know where they were. It wasn't the kind of party I was used to, but this is high school; I had to adapt. I grabbed a red solo cup from the table and drank away. “Ayyy, he’s getting messed up!” said a fellow classmate. My confidence started to rise and I thought to myself, ‘hey, this isn't so bad.’ The party ran its course and the popular kids started talking to me! We were making small talk when words I never heard before, like “getting blazed” and “baked,” started arising. Next thing I knew, I was outside in a circle with the cool kids, who were rolling up a blunt. “Have you gotten smacked before? You look kinda nervous bro.” “Yo guys, he gets first hit,” my “best friend” said. “What the hell is going?” on I thought to myself. This was all happening way too fast; I just wanted to fit in. Whatever… I had to adapt. They handed me what they called a blunt and the scraping of the igniting lighter was the last thing I heard.....“Is it supposed to feel like this?”

Sophomore Year: Potheads; yeah, that was my clique. I was fine with it. By the start of sophomore year, I had brought my dad to tears by ruining his image of me as the perfect son. He never looked at me the same, but it’s cool. I'm fine with it. My uncle, who's been my role model since the age of three, was in jail for something that wasn't his fault. But it's cool. I was fine with it. This was what my year consisted of: weed, a broken image, and a broken heart. I went through the motions of school, did the bare minimum and kept it all in. I should've talked to someone, but my friends would just call me a pussy and hand me a blunt and my traditional Indian parents were not options since they could never understand the emotions of a first generation Indian American. I just shoved my hands in my pocket, put a hood over my head and became another forgettable face in the crowd of wannabes. My uncle got out of jail in January. “Do you wanna be a loser for the rest of your life?” he shouted with rage. No. That was the complete opposite of who I was trying to be. I took that hood off, I flicked the blunt on the floor and stomped on it, along with that lifestyle.

Junior Year: I don't need a clique. I didn't need to be the person my so-called friends wanted me to be. This was the year I would create a new reputation for myself. This was the year that I would show my potential and hand my parents a report card I was proud of. “I don't want to be a loser,” I told my uncle randomly. “What are you talking about?” he said. He thought to himself for a second and then, a satisfied feeling grew on his face. From that day, I made it a mission to myself to be the person I had set out to be: a person that didn't need a clique, a person that didn’t need to do things to fit in or to be accepted by others. I needed to be the person that I wanted to be.

High School is still not over, and somehow I know that I will still continue to be faced with situations that will mold me into who I’m supposed to be. Who will I end up being? All that is to be answered as my high school story unravels.

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