Rachel Cameron

Rachel Cameron, Class of 2021

High school isn’t just a place to learn. It’s a place to make new friends, try new things, and grow as a person. Looking back at the last four years, I can say confidently that I have grown not only as a person but as a daughter and a friend. To me, those things are the most important things to be leaving high school with. I am happy that these days are over, but I’m also sad that I have to say goodbye to the best teachers and people I have met.

What better place to start than freshman year? Otherwise known as a time when I thought clothes, makeup, and hair mattered. I remember waking up an hour early just so I would have time to do a full face of makeup. I would then spend another fifteen minutes looking for an outfit that I hadn’t worn earlier that week because wearing the same outfit twice in one week was considered “weird.” You could definitely say I was self-conscious about the way I looked. I was a teenage girl who cared more about her appearance than actual school work. Freshman year I barely passed my classes. I simply just didn’t do my homework, never studied for tests, and was severely unorganized. My backpack was like a black hole of missing papers. Luckily for me, I was able to get back on track with the help of a guided study hall. Here I was able to get myself back on track.

Now let’s talk about sophomore year. Where do I even start? This year I had lost some friends but later gained some new ones. These friends were there for me throughout my lowest to highest moments. During my sophomore year, I faced my first mental health breakdown. I was a dumb teenager who made a stupid mistake that got me in trouble. I thought my mom would never look at me the same. That night I let my inner dark thoughts take over my body. That whole week was a fog. I remember sitting at my dinner table with my mom, sister, and grandparents. It was the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had. My mom pulled out a piece of paper that had a list of ways I can get myself back on track. The number one thing on that list was therapy. For three months I met with my therapist once a week. This was my treatment plan. I spoke with her about my emotions and rated them on a list. We also talked about healthy ways to cope with my emotions. Since that was a struggle for me. With help from her, I was able to manage my anxiety and depression through healthy coping skills. It was the first time I felt like I could handle my emotions.

Junior year. This year I had a stable friend group, a loving boyfriend, and was finally passing classes. I joined the cheer team and made even more friends, but you know what comes with being on the cheer team. I was laughed at and was given dirty looks. It made me feel like quitting. Every time we had to wear our uniforms to school I dreaded it. I knew that someone would stare or laugh at me. It’s pretty hard to miss a girl with a bow on the top of their head. At least I had friends that could laugh with me about it and not at me. Sooner than later a wide-spreading virus hit and forced us to be online. I went from passing to failing in a matter of days. I simply gave up on school causing me to do summer school. Something I had not wanted to do. The virus was known as COVID-19. It forced us to stay home and be isolated from everyone. This caused a major strain on my anxiety and I had yet another mental breakdown. I was getting up to 5 panic attacks a day for no reason at all. I remember sitting by my mom crying because I wanted that feeling to disappear. The feeling was overwhelming and left me exhausted. We thought the best thing for me was to go back to therapy. Again, I used healthy coping skills and made the most out of each session, but soon my anxiety got to the point where it caused me to have heartburn. It got so bad that I had to sleep sitting up, barely ate, and had zero energy. That night I went to the ER and spent a few hours there. At this point, my doctor thought the best option was for me to go on anxiety medication. After being on them, I can say that I no longer feel as anxious as I have felt.

Now it’s my senior year. It isn’t what I had imagined it to be, but what you get is what you get. Now if there is anything that I think you should remember about this speech it is that you should never be embarrassed about your emotions. There is always someone you can go to.