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Stuck in high school

If you ask me, we are all still in high school. See those women by the coffee maker, gossiping about a coworker? Totally high school. See that politician, scheming with his “friends” to get what he wants? Totally high school. See that chick, thinking she’s better than everyone else because of her (undeserved) success? Totally high school. See those men, competing at some silly election and not stopping until it’s their name that they see? Totally high school. You can’t even tell them to go back to high school, because honestly, it seems like no one has ever graduated from it.

High school was a big popularity contest. It was a reality show where everyone was watching and competing at the same time. Entering high school was a big deal for all of us, but it was when insecurities suddenly became more important than anything else. The thought of high school first seemed so warm and bright, but that idea quickly faded. Soon, we were all figuring out who we were. We wanted to belong somewhere, anywhere. Soon, high school became a game of survival.

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Soon, we divided ourselves into groups, and associated our personalities with names. Even if no one admitted it, our lives then mirrored the lives of high schoolers in movies. Everything was a cliché. Girls found their cliques and boys huddled together. At times, it was a matter of “fake it to make it” even with people we deemed our friends. Fake a smile, fake a laugh, fake a feeling just to get on someone’s good side. The strategy of stepping on someone also worked. Start a rumor, wait for it to be as widespread as the air, and instantly feel a hundred times better about yourself. And let’s not forget the unhealthy desire for gratification. In high school, being appreciated meant everything, and that meant doing nearly anything to get it.

Unfortunately, the high school attitude is carried on after graduation. It can be seen everywhere—in the news, at work, even in two people talking on the street. We are still compelled to succeed through immature ways. When they say you should leave your attitude behind in high school, you really have to do so. If you carry it with you, do you think you’ll actually gain something?

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If you ask me, it’s quite sad that so many grown men and women fight over petty things. It’s extremely disappointing that office workers stomp on their coworker because they don’t want anyone to rise above themselves. It’s sad that politicians lie and hide behind their “tough friends” so they can get through easily. It’s disturbing that “successful” people boast of achievements that they never worked for. It’s sad that people hate each other for something so simple. It’s heartbreaking that so many people follow the norm because they’re afraid that going against it will bring back the labels they received when they were 15.

What’s the point of graduating when the silliness of high school never leaves? It’s time to let go of the high school attitude and live life as respectful, decent human beings. If we hold on to this attitude, can we tell others to “grow up” when we ourselves have not? Let’s deal with issues with grace. Don’t let the 15-year-old take over. And in time, maybe the world can graduate.

Gail Aranas, 18, is a technology communication management sophomore at Mindanao University of Science and Technology in Cagayan de Oro City. She maintains a blog at gailaranas.blogspot.com and is cofounder of youngwritersphilippines.com.

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