In the eighth grade, I was an A/B student at Masterman. Most of my teachers liked me, and I was having a decent year. Now, eighth grade was important in that this was the year where everyone chose their high schools. It was almost an unspoken rule that everyone who got into Masterman would go there, and everyone assumed I was just going to Masterman for high school. Getting in would be easy enough, and there was no reason not to go to the best high school in the city, right?
From the moment my sister started as a freshman at SLA, she fell in love with it. There were countless family friends from my neighborhood who praised the school for how amazing of a place it was. As an outsider, I was enthralled. As early as sixth grade, I saw myself at SLA, and was convinced that it was the place to be.
So, when the time for high school application came around, I put SLA first and Masterman second, with Central and Palumbo on my list in case I didn’t get into the first two. I shadowed everywhere, even the two schools I probably wouldn’t go to. I wrote out an essay for each, and went to my SLA interview. After I had finished all the stress that comes with high school application, I waited.
Later that year, I found out I had gotten into every school I had applied to. It was exciting, yet equally overwhelming. I still had my eyes on SLA, and had started telling others that. The responses I got weren’t as enthusiastic.
The mother of a friend of mine was ecstatic at the thought of being able to carpool every morning. I had to break it to her that I wasn’t going to Masterman for high school, and she replied by letting out a despondent “Oh…” and changing the subject.
My math teacher, who I thought was a joy, had a similar response to my news. My history teacher, who went on to say I was one of the best students he had ever had, was simply crestfallen.We had a class period where we all stated our choices for high school, and others were surprised by my decision, some saying I had made the incorrect choice. This wave of disappointment from others turned into self-doubt on my end.
I remember vividly staying up late one night to finish an English assignment. Every month, we would write a letter to our English teacher, telling her what was going on in life, what we were planning on doing, that sort of thing. It was always the most superficial stuff: I saw this movie last week! I’m getting a dog!, whatever was literally happening in life. She would always respond with nice comments along the way.
I wrote my English teacher an emotional breakdown in a letter. I talked about this disappointment I was feeling, and how I hated it. What I really was looking for was empathy. She always wrote really sweet comments, and I really liked her as a teacher. I was hoping she’d understand and be able to help a little, at least. I turned it in the next day.
A few days later, I got my paper back. There were no comments on any of my emotional ranting. In that moment, I felt the insecurity booming inside my head. Not too long later, I would spend an entire English period sobbing. The disappointment, whether real or fake, had gotten to my head, and my own self-doubt led to me believing I had made the wrong decision.
With all this negative emotion bouncing around, I grasped to the support I was given. My family was entirely behind my decision, and I took a lot of comfort at home in those days. I had a close group of friends reminding me how excited I was for SLA. And, through the disappointment, I persevered.
It’s been a little more than a year since I left Masterman for SLA, and, in retrospect, I feel only a twinge of regret for leaving it all behind. In these situations, it’s often better to go with what you think rather than what others believe, because you know what’s best for you. I knew SLA was right for me, and I turned out well, despite what other people said.