Continuing the Conversation: …to the end.

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  • College decisions are honestly so random and unpredictable. At the end of the day, you’ll end up somewhere that’ll make you happy.

  • Thank you to the Wildcat Tribune for being my family during these past four years. It’s been both an honor and pleasure serving as Editor-in-Chief.

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Note: This story was written during May 2021. 


Dear Reader,

This final column has been drafting itself in my mind since June, but now I’m having trouble actually putting my thoughts onto a page. After all, it’s hard to fit nearly a quarter of my life so far into one article, especially since I barely have any recollection of freshman year and repressed all of junior year the moment it ended. 

Reading through the high school reflections of past Tribune EICs, I anticipated mine to be just as positive and uplifting. Spoiler Alert: it’s not. 

For the most part, I did not love high school. There were some cherishable moments, but overall, it was either mediocre or downright painful. While I could give you some sugar-coated review, sharing a truthfully pessimistic one would (hopefully) be equally insightful. 

At the time of writing this article, I’m one month away from wrapping up what’s supposed to be the best four years of my life. Clearly, I do not regard my past four years at Dougherty Valley as being the best, and I’d hate to think that I blew the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being a high schooler.

With that said, here’s some unsolicited advice from one person who disliked high school to another so you don’t feel like you’re wasting away your precious teen years:

  • You’re not missing out.

As someone who barely attended school functions, I felt like I was missing out on a proper high school experience. Seeing my classmates post about these events, I couldn’t help but to feel as if I made a mistake not participating.

Part of me wanted to fulfill those stereotypical high school experiences — Friday Night Lights, Homecoming, tons of school spirit, etc. — but my rational part always reminded me that I wouldn’t enjoy any of it because it’s stuff that I personally am not interested in. And that’s ok. (What isn’t ok is how it took me almost four years and a pandemic to realize this.)

Truth is, there’s no such thing as a proper high school experience. It’s based on stereotypes that don’t apply to each person. What you choose to do with your time in high school makes up your experience. As long as you’re doing what you love, whether that be reporting on football games from the field instead of watching from the stands or something else, I’d say you’re crafting a pretty darn good high school experience for yourself. \

High school itself didn’t shape me to be a better person, but I did grow during my time in high school. 

  • Just because it sucks, doesn’t mean you don’t feel happiness. 

High school’s a depressing, yet bearable, time. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough for the classes I was taking or the things I was doing. I lived within my insecurities and let my anxious feelings take over. Looking back, I never got the high school experience I wanted, which hurts me to think about, but I still shared a genuine laugh with my friends every day. 

Don’t get me wrong, I felt the light inside me burn out as a result of these past four years, but these small moments made things not-so-bad. Think of all the lab table conversations, cheerful waves during passing periods, listening to your teacher excitedly talk about their weekend, etc. Point is, things don’t always turn out the way we want or like them to, but we can still find joy in the way they do turn out. 

  • Your college decisions do not determine if your work in high school “paid off.”

No Dougherty Valley reflection would be complete without mentioning college. One thing I’ve always absolutely hated about this school is the trivial stress culture. There’s so much more to life than the college you end up at, but I digress because I know this sentiment simply can’t be agreed with for some. 

When people start hearing back from colleges, they begin to question whether or not their time in high school was worthwhile. Regardless of where you end up, know that all those hours you spent working hard in high school did pay off. Maybe you didn’t get into your dream school and you feel like all your efforts were wasted. But, think about that rush you got when you found out you got an A on a test you studied hard for, or the people you helped when racking up those community service hours, or how good those stolen breaks between studying felt. 

High school should be viewed as its own thing as opposed to being the determining precursor to college. The last thing you want to do on top of coping with rejection is to think that your time spent in high school was all for nothing. I didn’t get into any of my top choices (none of them were Ivies or T20s), and that sucked, but I’m still proud of the work I did during the past four years. Spend your time in high school doing what you love and not for the sole purpose of college apps. Your time won’t be wasted. (I’d make this a promise, but I don’t want to run the risk of a few outliers coming after me for breaking it lol.)

  • You did do/are doing your best.

Going off of my previous tip, you may look back and wish that you did more throughout high school. Once your time comes to a close, you start to wonder where you could’ve done better. I wish I had tried harder in certain classes or written more hard-hitting pieces for the Tribune. In retrospect, it’s easy to think that I could have achieved these goals. But, I’m also a different person now, even if I feel I haven’t changed much. I did the best I could given my previous circumstances. Sure, my best wasn’t perfect or even enough to execute my aspirations, but I gave it my all and grew from those experiences.

One thing I’ve noticed about Dougherty students is how we’re always pushing for more, and that’s a great thing. However, it gets to be a bit much at times to the point where it’s suffocating. Sometimes, we all just need to zoom out and be grateful for what we have and what we’re capable of. We all have different circumstances, so as long as you’re trying your best, I’d say you are doing an amazing job.

My high school experience was unpredictable and unconventional. Never in a million years would I want to relive it, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 

  • Mind your own business and focus on doing your own thing.

I’d love to tell you how I survived high school, but I honestly have no clue how, and this tip that’s more of a reminder is the closest I can think of. Throughout the past four years, I stuck with what I knew and what I was interested in. I didn’t participate in activities because everyone else did or because I could get clout for college apps. 

Now, a tip I received before entering junior year was to not compare myself to others. Infinitely easier said than done. It’s hard not to think of others when the people around us are flexing everything, even how late they stayed up to study. Even the dumbest things turn into a competition. I’m not oblivious to what goes on around me, so I did have plenty of thoughts regarding where I stood among the student body.

My remedy? Staying in my own lane. I surrounded myself with like-minded individuals and focused only on what I loved doing: journalism and Key Club. I’d say that worked out pretty well for me seeing as though I still managed to have some fun through it all. High school itself didn’t shape me to be a better person, but I did grow during my time in high school. As for you, hopefully you utilize this tip along with the others. I wish you the best of luck in your remaining high school and future endeavors. 


While these tips are geared toward underclassmen to help them navigate the rest of their high school careers, most of them are still applicable to my fellow seniors because they can be used later in life. At the end of the day, high school’s just another part of life rather than life-defining as so many of us believe. 

Now, I began my first column with a “Ratatouille” quote, so in true Caroline-fashion, I will be concluding the conversation with another: “The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.” My high school experience was unpredictable and unconventional. Never in a million years would I want to relive it, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 



Caroline Lobel