Private to public school

Mary Corkery, Of The Talon staff

I tried to prepare myself: I picked out all my outfits, prefilled all of my binders, and reorganized my desk to make the perfect homework spot. None of those things truly mattered though, because when I walked into freshman orientation, I realized I was completely alone. I knew nobody. For the last nine years, I had gone to a Catholic school with less than 300 kids in all 10 grades, and I was the big fish in a small pond. Everyone knew my name. When I came to public school, all of that changed. In retrospect, a public school is not huge, but to me, it was enormous. And in this huge school, everyone seemed to know exactly where they belonged. In my mind, I stuck out like a sore thumb, and for those first few weeks, I felt so lost.

There were so many days that I just longed for my old school. All I wanted to do was sit by the same people that I had sat by for years and learn from the same teachers and not have to worry about anything. Everything was so familiar and comfortable.

Still, I can easily say that leaving was the best thing that ever happened to me.

People often ignore how familiarity is a double-edged sword. It’s nice, but staying in familiar territory for a long time begins to feel like walking in circles. All of the things that once drew you in begin to lose their lure, and it does not take long for this boredom to turn into resentment and restlessness. I thought that if I had to stay any longer, redoing the same steps over and over every day, I was going to lose my mind. It didn’t help that it was the same two dozen people for nine years. Since I was 5, I have changed quite a lot, yet you can never quite forget those original impressions you had of people, or the ways you’ve done them wrong. By the end of the year, we were all so disgusted with ourselves that we were aching to start someplace new, someplace where the lure was still alive and strong. 

I found my fresh start at high school. It was like walking out of a jungle and seeing a white field, clear and flat for as far as the eye can see. No one knew me, but I soon began to appreciate that. Being unknown is such an ignored pleasure. When nobody knows your name, you get to make one for yourself, and finally being able to do that is like a breath of fresh air. I want to be defined by who I am, not who I used to be. This version of myself is the best one yet, and it’s nice to know that people see that when they look at me. None of my past mistakes are weighing me down.

Seven months later, I have no regrets. Having to say goodbye was like opening Pandora’s box: at first, it’s all awful, but at the bottom, hope makes itself known. When I first started here, there was so much that I still needed to learn that seemed engraved in everyone’s brain. I felt like everyone else had been given instructions except for me, and catching up was no easy feat. Still, I never lost hope. I always knew, even when things seemed hard, that it would all turn out fine in the end. Sometimes, you just have to keep going through the hardships and see where it takes you.