Four Years at Plant


Kennedy Gilbert

Letter to readers, I wrote this in hopes that it will reach at least one student and have them find a relation in my writing. Even if it doesn’t reach anybody, that is OK too. It’s only an experience, a mere experience had by one individual in a vast world. Thank you for reading. Respectfully, Kennedy

Plant High School is widely known around the community for its high-achieving students and excellent staff. There is plenty of success and competition on campus. It certainly lives up to its reputation: “The best public High School in Tampa, Florida.”    

I, being incredibly timid, certainly struggled with the day-to-day tendencies of school. There are two sides to my personality. The studious, quiet, and no-nonsense student who adopted a stoic face while traveling down the halls. However, at home or around friends, a different side emerges. Someone who laughs (probably too much), is a lot more sensitive than they let on, listens to the oldies, and always is down to riding in the car somewhere. For a long time, keeping the other side hidden was easier until I realized it fulfills a person to show both sides of their personality.   

That’s the struggle with high school; everybody starts at a different pace. There are the people who automatically fit in and find their niche, the people who really don’t care and are there to go to their classes and be done with the day, and people who push, push, push, hoping to make all the right moves only to find out the same thing that the rest of them will discover. Time will tell, and what is meant for you will follow you.   

 Don’t ever, ever follow others in any way. It won’t pay off.   

Standing out is not only OK but embraced. When you live in a world so prone to conformity, it’s easier to break free of that and gather the strength to go your own way. 

For students, this is a time for experimentation. You’re here to learn not only about subjects but yourself and your comfort zone. It’s important to stress that there is no time limit on finding who you are. No imaginary clock stops ticking and shouts, “Times Up!”   

It sounds cliché, but by the time senior year rolls around, you have changed and have adopted a new viewpoint on life. You don’t care as much about the little things like getting called on when you don’t know the answer or a phone ringing in the middle of a lecture. 

For me, Plant subscribes to somewhat unrealistic expectations for some students. While many students can reach those goals, some can’t and will continue their years living behind a shadow. It can lead to our insecurities swallowing us and spitting us out. Not only academically but socially. 

There is certainly nothing wrong with having a competitive streak. It contributes to the drive in a personality. But there must be balance. It’s very easy to fall off the horse when the snake is slithering by it.   

When your heart and mind feel you can conquer it, then conquer. But let it be your heart and mind that decides to do so in the first place.   

 My experience is friends will come and go. It’s a part of life. It isn’t confined to high school.   

When a friendship ends, you must reflect on what was lost and gained. There is always something enlightening that stands out and allows you to take the next step and say, “Next time, I’m going to do things differently.” While it was intimidating for me to say those words out of fear of uncertainty, it will only let you breathe a little better from now on.   

We all make mistakes; I had to learn from mine. There is no room for grieving or dwelling. This was a mistake that I made for a long time. Believe it or not, it isn’t the end of the world if you forget to submit homework or are late to class one day.   

A school is where you meet all kinds of people, and these people will have different priorities. Getting caught up in the influence of others, especially peers, is a challenge. On the second day of my freshman year, I was told, “Before I was a sophomore, I would have tried drugs.”   

Popularity … the “golden ticket” If that’s so, why do adults say, “you don’t want to peak in High School.” For whatever reason, it is exemplified as important among students. Will the chain ever be broken?   

Relationships … the best part of High School. Right? The fear of rejection can be crippling for some. It was for me. I wonder how many peers suppressed their crushes and left High School wondering, “what if?”