Anyone that has ever been through the fabled American institution that is high school knows that the movies and tv shows that portray it are grossly exaggerated, if not wholly inaccurate. And yet, people still strive toward, and lust after, the fantasy world portrayed in shows (good shows, mind you) like Gossip Girl (GG), 90210, or One Tree Hill (OTH).
It’s easy to pull apart these pop media references and find all sorts of damaging messages to the youth of America: vanity, overpowering lust, relationships with teachers are a-okay (Pretty Little Liars). But a consistent problem in all of these shows that has always bothered me more than any other, is the overarching idea of the continuation of pain.
That sounds dramatic, and a quick perusal of the most painful of shows plots could be explained away as examples of teenage angst. However, something is being taught in the tears of Bella Swan from Twilight (ugh) or any of the characters of OTH, when they are seemingly scarred for life by relationships that ended poorly. The lesson that these characters teach is the incorrect idea that what happens in high school relationships is somehow permanently damning or at least lastingly painful.
Look, I’m not disregarding the turbulent emotions that accompany any high school relationship. Whether it’s with friends, or with a significant other, the angst that comes with being a teenager makes pretty much any kind of drama just hurt that much more. However, in the long run, high school is four years of your childhood that passes quickly. Before you know it it’ll just be a speck in the rear view mirror of your life.
And yet, the TV that portrays the high school life teach girls, and boys, that what happens in their relationships can change their lives. It may be hard to believe, but when David breaks your heart over text, or Jenny decides to date Matt instead of you, you’ll get past it. And honestly, with the quickness that lust and amicable love flows and rushes through schools, before long there’ll be another person to crush on. I’ve witnessed this first hand; friends who claim they are “emotionally demolished” by their crushes rejection, and then have a new boy toy in a time span that has ranged from a few days to a few hours.
Look at parents and other adults in your life as proof of the lasting effects of the high school relationship; how many of them actually knew each other in high school? Of course, there will always be a couple of those “high school sweethearts,” but the vast majority of married couples met somewhere later on down the line when they are both more mature and ready for commitment and serious relationships. And you’d most likely having difficulty getting any adult to admit that their life could have been “so much better” if only Bill or Sue had ever liked them back, or if their heart hadn’t need crushed into rubble in the cruel hands of Gaston or Jane. Honestly, the adults I know just laugh when they think back to their years as victims of the drama of high school.
So here’s the key point: High school is not the end. Despite what the soaps may lead you to believe, relationships come and go throughout your teenage years, and then you grow up. It may feel like someone is taking a blunt knife to your intestines whenever you see Gabriel with YOUR Troy (I’m looking at you Sharpay) or maybe it’s like being attacked by a mad bat-wielding maniac whenever you see Adam with YOUR Eve. But try to keep perspective. At the 20 year reunion, they most likely won’t even be together anymore, and you will definitely have the most attractive partner there. So there.
Remember high school ends, and then everything else begins.