Who are you? Finding yourself in high school

The majority of teenagers go through a phase in high school of feeling lost about who they are. This inevitable period of confusion can be tough to go through on ones own. Here is some advice from a senior to help you navigate through this difficult time.


Evanthia Stirou

Piece of art by Evanthia Stirou showcasing a girl staring into the mirror confused about who she sees.

Sanna Lexhed, Associate Editor

“Who are you?” asked the person glaring back at me in the bathroom mirror.

In my head, I knew the person was me. It was the same person who has been in the mirror my entire life. Nothing had changed. The short, blonde, green-eyed, freckled-nose girl by the name of Sanna Lexhed was still there like she had always been, yet something was different.

During high school, growth spurts aren’t the only ways teenagers change. There are also these fun little things called hormones that, as we all very well know, change a lot of things up. It’s due to these hormonal fluctuations, along with other fluctuations such as brain development and environmental changes, that teens go through great transformations that cause their appearance, mood, and even personality to change. What they don’t tell you in school though is that all of these changes can cause you to lose a sense of identity.

The transition from being the big kid in eighth grade to being the youngster again in freshman year is bound to make you feel lost. I know it made me feel that way.

Being a senior now and having gone through all the awkward stages that high school bestows, I am here to serve as your big sister and provide you with three helpful tips to avoid getting lost in the midst of high school.

1. Finding Your Own Style
Clothing, as superficial as it may seem, is a huge part of reflecting and expressing your personality. Coming into high school I wore what I was “supposed” to wear, or what I thought I was supposed to wear at least. Skin-tight skinny jeans, tight collared shirts, and white vans were a staple outfit I would wear on repeat weekly. I wore this, of course, because it was what every other girl in my grade was wearing.

I wanted to be a carbon copy of everyone else. I wanted to blend in and not be seen. Did I actually like these outfits I was forcing myself to wear? Absolutely not. But, once again, I fooled myself into thinking this was what I was supposed to be wearing.

I can still remember buying my first pair of baggier jeans. In retrospect, they truly weren’t that baggy, but then again anything other than the skin-snug jeans I was wearing seemed “baggy” to me. I was a sophomore at this point, standing in one of the tiny PacSun fitting rooms at the Ellenton Premium Outlet, staring at myself in the mirror (as I often found myself doing). I looked down at the jeans, then back up at myself, then at the jeans again, and did so about 50 more times.

I knew I liked them, but I knew I shouldn’t. They didn’t fit the criteria of what everyone else was wearing. I was fighting an inner battle with myself of deciding whether I should please myself or please others.

So, did I end up getting the jeans? Yes. But only after I asked about 10 people for their opinion.

My style has dramatically changed throughout the years of high school. This only happened because I challenged myself to do so. Every year, starting sophomore year, I dared myself to buy a piece of clothing that I liked, but which didn’t really particularly fit into the “status quo” of standard outfits girls were wearing at my school.

These jeans were my first experimental piece. I nervously put them on before school and wore them all day. What I quickly realized was that no one seemed to care about my new jeans.

Over time, I bought more and more of these experimental pieces. Slowly, I started building my own personal style. Every time I caught myself thinking about what others might think about my shirt or pants or shoes I reminded myself of the realization I had sophomore year that “no one cares about my new jeans.”

That’s my biggest advice for you. Challenge yourself to venture beyond the “ordinary”, and when you do, remind yourself that no one truly cares.

2. Trusting Yourself
Going against what’s “normal” is easier said than done. Take me buying my baggy jeans for example. I didn’t buy them solely because I wanted to, I bought them because 10 other people told me to.

Listening to other people’s opinions can often be much easier than listening to our own.

What if our own opinions are wrong? What if we don’t trust ourselves enough? I didn’t even trust myself enough to buy a pair of pants, how could I ever make any other decisions by myself?

That is what I used to think until my perspective changed.

Trusting yourself isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes time, practice, and patience. Just like challenging yourself to buy and wear more adventurous clothing, trusting yourself is learned through pushing yourself to depend on YOU.

Pushing yourself to do things and make decisions without depending on others’ input is something you must constantly remind yourself to do.

It won’t be easy or comfortable at first. But, after time and practice, it’ll get easier.

Depending on yourself is crucial for maturing and becoming your own individual, and trusting yourself is the first step.

3. Loving Yourself
Loving yourself is something which, if learned how to do early, will stick with you for the rest of your life.

Now, I know I know, you’ve probably heard a plethora of people advising you to learn and practice self-love and self-care in your life. You may have heard it so many times that now you roll your eyes at people trying to teach you about it. You may have even scoffed at this article as you read the words after “3.”

Self-love really is a fundamental part of life though, that is why so many people refuse to shut up about it… These people include me.

It would be a lie if I told you that I had the whole loving yourself thing all figured out, but I definitely have a better grasp on it than I did four years ago.

While the process of self-love varies from person to person, for me, it has largely derived from getting to know myself.

Getting to know yourself can be extremely uncomfortable. There are endless distractions out there, especially social media, that hinder us from spending true quality time with ourselves.

What I challenge you to do is to start small. Start out by setting aside an hour or two of your weekend time to simply spend with yourself. And no, I don’t mean to sit alone in your room scrolling through TikTok for an hour, I mean to truly sit alone with yourself and your thoughts.

Doing this can be extremely difficult and even scary at first. Being alone with nothing else but your thoughts— you might fear what your brain will make you think about.

I promise you, though, that after time this will get easier and easier. When I first started doing this, I found myself checking the clock every five minutes, impatiently waiting for the hour to end. After lots of practice though, things got much easier and eventually, it no longer felt like a chore, but more of an exciting task I looked forward to doing.

High school can be a very turbulent time and place for many of us. Instead of getting lost in the swift changes that are occurring, take this time to get to know yourself and explore who you are and who you want to be.