“There are many reasons why I dropped out of high school.”
This is my starter line, my excuse as to why I dropped out when I, apparently, had everything going for me. AP Scholar. Decent grades-before I stopped caring. Scholarship to the University of Iowa by virtue of the color of my skin. I keep saying this line, over and over. It’s become my mantra, so much so that I’ve forgotten the real ones or just buried them somewhere where I wouldn’t have to look at them. But really? The reason I dropped out?
Well, there are many reasons why I dropped out.
Firstly, I was unhappy. I would like to take a moment to thank my wonderful mother for giving me her debilitating depression. Depression isn’t some soap opera disease. Maybe I’m just predisposed personality-wise or something but I believe that a certain extent of depression-clinical depression-is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. There’s a point that you come to where nothing makes you happy anymore-the things you loved, the people who used to make you smile. Nothing. And so you sit through life wondering why all the color has drained out of the world. I used to call this the Grey. I also used to be suicidal. I am neither now. By junior year, I was hospitalized and finally medicated and by senior year I was back in the hospital. I never slit my wrists or cut myself. I never told myself that I was a failure of a person and cried myself to sleep. Yes, I was a bit shy in classes (sometimes) but I’ve always been the loud, outrageous friend, the one who makes obscene jokes and always laughs the loudest. And yet, internally, I was feeling completely empty. Everything took twice the effort. So yes, I was unhappy but that wasn’t the only reason why.
I didn’t feel like I was doing anything that I wanted to do. All my life I’ve tried to please people. I want my grandparents to be proud of me. I want my teachers to like my work, to give me A’s. I want the people around me to view me in a certain way and when I fail them, when I disappoint them, I am devastated. I hate disappointing people. So I was going to go to Iowa because one of my best friends was going there, because my mother and grandparents didn’t want me to leave. I was going to succeed in school because the people around me wanted me to and, I suppose, a little because I simply got used to seeing my name in bright lights on everything at school. I was going to study linguistics not because I love linguistics but because I thought that this was the acceptable career for me, the career where I could still please my family by not running off to art school to study writing and please myself by doing something that I enjoyed. And when the Grey came, I realized that all the things I was doing didn’t make me happy and that none of them meant a Goddamn thing to me. So I quit.
And the final reason: because I could.
I could drop out. That was something that I had control over, something that no one could take back but me. I was convinced that I was going to start doing the things that I wanted. I would get my GED because a high school diploma was not a validation of my intelligence. I would start writing my book, move to Chicago with my dad, get a job there and start living a life of my own. And in reality, all of my great little ideas were one thing: fucking stupid. I think, in reality, I knew that dropping out was a shitty idea. It just took me an entire summer to figure this out.
After a summer of writing, of attempting to convince everyone around me that what I was doing was what I wanted, of avoiding people, namely my grandparents, I went on a Youth for Christ trip to Colorado. I’ve done it every year since I started high school, besides my junior year. And it doesn’t matter that I don’t really worship God-I believe in him but I’m still working out the kinks of worship-but going there completely cleared my mind. There’s something about being in the mountains, just hiking and having all aspects of technology besides a bus and a camera absent that allows you to truly delve deeply into yourself and examine your very soul. And, with the help of a sign from God, I decided that I wanted to go back to high school.
I’m there now, just finishing up my Super Senior trimester. Welcome back to Kennedy High School. I can tell that some of my teachers are disappointed in me. Some had already given up. I don’t blame them but nor do I let it bother me like it used to. I’m getting A’s and B’s and maybe a C or two. But the reason that I came back, the reason that I came back to everything that I took for granted, was because I wanted my diploma. For the first time, I truly wanted it not because it would make high school end, not because I wanted to please people but because I wanted it. And I may not be truly happy now but I feel like I’m on the right path because I’m doing things for me, as cliche as that sounds, and because I’m doing things that I want to do.