Navigating High School

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Today, I am going to share a little bit of my story and what my high school experience was like. By the end of this post, you will see that I (just like you) had a rough time going through high school.

My goal is to share my story here and continue posting in here on how to navigate through high school’s challenges. For starters, it would help to know what the challenges are.

If you can’t identify something, then you don’t know it’s a problem. High school poses 3 critical challenges in your life:

1. Insecurities

2. The need for acceptance (popularity, but actually comes in many forms)

3. Identity struggles

acceptanceStart of My High School Journey

Entering into high school, I came in just 4 feet 11 inches tall…still under 5 feet tall as a freshman in high school!

As a guy, this was a huge insecurity for me as I was always one of the shortest students in my grade for as long as I could remember.

Since I already was insecure about myself in a new environment, that made my need for acceptance that much more amplified.

I had started playing travel soccer and made the middle school team so those were definite ego boosters for me going into high school. This helped with my personality and making friends.

Yet since my need for acceptance was so strong in high school, there was this constant internal struggle/battle about who I was aka my identity struggle.

You see, I was raised by my dad who was a Christ Follower  (you’ll see me make this distinction a lot and I will explain later via podcast so stay tuned for the link to that) and he was growing in his Faith while I was going through high school.

I was also raised by my mom who was and still is an amazing mother to me. She taught me a lot about life and for that I am thankful. Quick shout out to my mom and dad, love you guys, you are the best and thanks for investing so much into me and Nick.

Seriously…you guys are absolutely amazing and I love you 🙂 Okay now back to my journey…

I saw what my dad had and it was genuine, and I wanted that but my need for acceptance was strong and I thought that if I declared myself as a Christian, I would no longer be accepted among my friends, etc.

I was afraid of being considered an outcast and a weirdo. In addition, my dad was still growing in his faith, which meant he didn’t really know how to instill that and teach me and my brother.

So on the inside I always tried to be a moral and “good person” but I wavered so much because I  would pretty much turn that part of myself off when I was around my friends because I just wanted to have fun and be accepted.

This resulted in a constant identity struggle where I would battle with myself internally. But since I wasn’t a Christ Follower, it wasn’t too hard for me ignore the internal tugs and just keep doing whatever it is that enabled me to “have fun,” “be accepted,” and thus, be “happy.”

inadequateSo what were my insecurities?

Well, as I mentioned earlier one of my biggest insecurities was my height.

I was insecure about myself and my identity in general, whether I had what it takes to be accepted, find a “cool” friend group, and get a girlfriend.

I went all throughout high school without a single girlfriend. That was a HUGE blow to my identity and my self-esteem.

It told me that I wasn’t loved, wasn’t accepted, and wasn’t good enough. That sound familiar? Anyone else feel this way or ask these questions to themselves?

On top of that, I was hooked on pornography…which in the end didn’t help because it just made me feel like a creeper and even more like a loser.

This was difficult for me because I was able to fit in with the relatively popular cliques in high school where most of them had girlfriends.

My need for acceptance popular

I didn’t realize this until I was a senior in college, but my ability to adapt and fit in with the cool kids made me feel gross.

Why? I finally realized that I didn’t know my true identity, I didn’t know who I was. I was always a shadow of other people, able to fit the mold in order to blend in and be accepted.

After this realization I felt gross…..”Who am I?” I don’t know…that’s a SCARY and lonely place to be.

Where does this come from? We often hear about a high school girl posting provocative pictures on Facebook and say, “she’s just doing it for attention, she just wants attention.”

No crap! and so do you, we all do! It is in our human nature to desire to be accepted and seek attention.

It’s only bad when it becomes an unhealthy obsession and we do whatever it takes to get attention or look for attention however we can get it, even in negative ways.

What did this look like for me? Let me give you a few examples:

  • I would defy and disrespect the teacher, try to be the class clown and gain the laughter and acceptance from my peers in the room.
  • I would make fun of others to get a laugh from the audience
  • I would talk behind people’s backs in order to feel better about myself…it would serve to bring the other person down and elevate me up

I would always justify my behavior and truly felt that I was a good kid because I would just compare myself to the kids who were worse than me and I’d tell myself, “I’m fine, because look at them…I’m not THAT bad or THAT mean or THAT rebellious.”

To be honest, I wasn’t that bad by today’s measure…I didn’t do drugs at all and I didn’t start drinking until junior year.

But here again, I was just measuring myself against people who I viewed as worse than me and I had no way to measure my worth and my identity besides looking at what society had to offer.

Once I became a Christ Follower (right after I graduated college), I realized the Bible was the ultimate authority by which I could measure myself. I’ve read it all and continue to read it almost every day and guess what? It’s not what you think!

It’s not there to condemn you and tell you how bad of a person you are. It’s not there to give you a set of rules that restrict you from having fun in life.

It’s there to talk about the fact that we are all sinful people but can be freed from that, not by our own works but by the grace of God, who sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for us and our sins.

It’s there for a lot more than just that, but you will have to head over to the “Media” tab and check out my podcasts for more on that.

What about you?what about you?

I hope this was helpful and the reason I share my story is because telling stories paints a picture and is the most engaging way to interact with people.

My hope is that you will email me at matt@fulfillmentinlife.com and share some things you are struggling with because I’d love to help from the view point of someone who’s been through it but also is not your parent.

I never wanted to talk to my parents about this kind of stuff, so I totally understand.

Also, remember I am speaking from experience and relevance…I am 22 years old and just out of college…I know what you are going through because I went through it.

Any information you share on here in the comments or privately via email will be kept safe. My goal is for this place to be a safe place where we can all come together and share in each other’s burdens and lift each other up.

When you share, know that it will be kept confident, you will be safe, and you will NOT be judged.

The reason I strongly encourage you to reach out and confide in this community or message me privately (matt@fulfillmentinlife.com) is because it helps YOU.

Reading my story can only do so much, but my desire is to help YOU out and by actively engaging it will only help you that much more 🙂

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

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4 thoughts on “Navigating High School

  1. Johan

    Hello Matthew,
    I really like the overall message and I believe you relate to a lot of students. May you have a lot of success with it.

    Best regards,
    J

    Reply
    1. Matt

      Thank you J,

      I truly appreciate your kind words of encouragement 🙂

      your engagement and feedback on here has been very helpful for me and I hope it encourages others to get engaged as well!

      Reply
  2. Alex

    Hey Matt!

    Thanks for being transparent and vulnerable.
    I can relate to a lot of what you shared.
    Good word!

    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      Hey Alex,

      No problem, it took all strength and grace from God to do it, I can assure you of that! Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. In what ways did you feel like you could relate?

      Reply

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