The Battlefield Of High School

Yesterday, and this morning, per my routine, I put on my armor of a neat white polo shirt, socially acceptable Uggs, and curled lashes. As I walked out the wooden doors of my castle, I wielded my shield of silence and patted the quill — my weapon of choice — in my right pocket. I mumbled a quick prayer for the oncoming battle and prepared to step out onto the battlefield of high school.
Pre-war sickness tugged at me again, and I doubled over in the jungle of varsity football players more than a foot taller than me. I held the shield before me, and they moved silently past me. I rarely needed to use my weapon; the only time I’d used it was when I’d first chosen it — my English teacher told me repeatedly that “the quill is mightier than the sword.” And as I sat down every night at my desk to write, I believed her.
Why am I such a wallflower? Why don’t I jump into conversations and try to include myself? As I stand last in line to head off to battle, I only feel the cold shoulder — colder than the midnight wind — of the troop standing in front of me, her back turned squarely at me, and I understand the message she is trying to convey to me. And it is in ostracizing moments like this that I wonder why I am even here. I don’t want to have to brave the cold. It’s hard. In a large crowd of two hundred and fifty socializing teenagers, I’ve never felt so alone.
As I sank deeper and deeper into a soporific haze in an attempt to drown out the reality of ostracization, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated everyday with the ones who ignored me.
In a school that seemed to stress community and love, I found myself asking, “Where’s the moral in that?”
I was convinced there was no moral.
But, later on I did dig up the moral. As I sat in yet another battle one day, I pondered the reality of my situation, paying special attention to minute details I hadn’t before. All around me, during lunches, events, classes, I noticed the naturally-formed cliques of soldiers — the tough soldiers familiar with battle from their own cat fights with each other, and the group of beautiful troops who, in another life, would have had straight shots to the top of Hollywood with their perfect aesthetics and impressive social ability. Then, there was my “platoon.” As I resumed reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the second time, I realized that the moral was that I wasn’t alone — I was surrounded by eight people just like me. I was surrounded by eight people who were too shy to exert the energy to socialize, eight people who sat silently writing and reading and didn’t care what other people would think, eight people comfortable enough with each other to talk about their love for the timeless Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. See, despite the gawking of the elite, my friends are who they are; they are nerdy, shy, and awkward, and I’ve come to realize that that’s the point.
As I lurched through the dragging battle, I held my book tightly in my hands, all the while ignoring the judgmental stares of scoffing troops and feeling reassured that Charlie felt this way, like a wallflower, that my friends received the same looks, that they were right there beside me.
And so here’s the real, concrete moral: The fact that I’m here telling this story, and the likelihood that maybe you are a lonely high school geek like me, just proves the point of writing this in the first place. In an ironic twist, we’re not alone because we’re all alone.

Angelina Hue ’16

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