WE’RE HALFWAY through the school year and something’s been bugging me.
I’m in the seventh grade; practically “high school” now, let’s just get that cleared up. But high school is not exactly how I pictured it.
Lots of people, especially those who have long finished school, think they know what it’s like (been there, done that). From adults, I usually hear, “When my friends and I were your age, we’d trade stationery and stickers and hang out in Greenbelt when it was still small.” Which irks me because my parents’ generation seems so tame compared to mine. I feel that they don’t know what the average 21st-century high school class actually is, so let me shed some light on it.
I’m sure there are still some things that our generation has in common with the previous one. We still have the wonderful time-taker but gift in the end: homework. Getting up early is a constant, and buses still exist. We have crushes and growing-up changes because adolescence is immortal. We continue to have talks on puberty and college.
Put all of that aside, and all you see are the differences.
High school now? Tough skin is mandatory. A breakdown is not an option when people, say, swear at you, although I suggest not retorting. You have to pretend you’re not hurt when classmates get too hard on teasing, even going as far as commenting at everything you say, “Yeah, whatever, you’re still ugly,” or insulting you at every chance, “You suck at singing.” You have to deal with those people who will never quite respect you the way you want them to.
Add screaming in the classroom, being judged a lot, classmates who are diehard fans of hugot–and you have the perfect recipe for a classroom in this century. Here’s how to deal:
Shut down your inner crybaby. When someone tells you something you don’t agree with, especially when it’s an insult, don’t react. As everyone says, bullies, or in this case, your classmates, just need a rise out of you. You get slammed with something hurtful? Push it down. You can cry later (or hopefully never).
Keep retorts and bashes to yourself, because really, sometimes most of the things people say or do aren’t worth remembering.
Bid social media goodbye. It’s true: You shouldn’t post every little thing you hate about the world on social media. It’s very tempting, but stop before you hit that “Tweet” or “Post” button. People have feelings, too.
Forgive and forget. My classmates turn my “goody-goody” attitude into a joke, like: “You know, I’m always the mean one and you’re the kind one. Stop making me look bad.” I’m one of those people in the classroom who can’t say no. No matter how mean a classmate gets, I try to treat them like a friend even though inside I’m spewing with hate for that person and hate for me for giving in. But in the end? It’s worth it.
If all else fails, know that it’s going to be okay. Why? I’m more or less certain that in the end, you’ll be grateful (and even miss it).
My case in point: The 21st-century generation is blessed to have so many opportunities. In my classroom, we have a TV set with access to the Internet. Instead of manila paper and cartolina as visual aids, we have PowerPoint. We still have the library, and it’s always a blast-from-the-past activity when we have to do research in it. We have all these easy-functioning iPhones and iPads we’re sometimes required to use for projects, like making a film or a PowerPoint. They come up with way more programs and subjects for all of us, and extracurriculars are highlighted as well (Shout-out to all my varsity classmates in this one!).
So, yes, adults. It’s not what you imagine. Your children are not having the time of their life trading scented papers and gel pens in their classroom, because what actually goes on inside a classroom of this generation is way beyond that.
But the best part? We have our entire life in front of us, and it’s up to us to choose whether we’re going to start off on a good or bad note.
Also, although “What do you want to do when you grow up?” is a constant question for us, we don’t have to deal with taxes yet, or jobs. We don’t need to work to receive paychecks because having an allowance, like adolescence, is immortal. We don’t have to stress ourselves with relationship stuff like having a significant other (unless you want to). We can still freak out over homework and demand the help of our smarter, more time-management-oriented classmates. We can still dream about attending our prom and high school graduation. We still have time to prepare for college exams and the real world.
Yep, I’m beginning to like the idea of being in high school.
Andrea Salvador, of St. Paul College Pasig, is turning 13 on Dec. 17.
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