“Shy kids never shine” Naturally, as a 17 year old girl living as Gen Z, this quote struck my eye as I was about to swipe through the never-ending Snapchat stories. I replayed this particular story about five times, just to make sure that I had read it right. There it was, written on the whiteboard at the top in blue marker surrounded by a bubble. My initial reaction was to make a pun, also natural but in a more personal way. Ahaha yeah, shy kids never shine, they shy-ne I snickered in my head, too embarrassing to say out loud. An hour later though, it floated right back into my head, because of a stupid comment by a stupid teacher. I'm aware of how much I sound like a 21st century teenage cliche, and that's okay. Once you learn how to accept yourself, it's much easier to go through life without having to meet people's expectations. Before the quote really hit me, I had gone to the careers office in my school, as my friend had requested my presence while she went to pick up a form from the careers teacher. As I stood idly, waiting for the teacher to fish out the paper from one of the desk drawers, she turned to me and said “Have I seen you before?” Hmm. I had a feeling where this was going, but I replied nonetheless. “Not personally. I mean, I've come to this office a few times when my friends had career committee meetings, but not like, personally to get advice from you.” A pause. “I have never seen you. Or is it because you're wearing your hair open today?” I shook my head no. “And the fact that you're a prefect too? That's sad.” She scrutinized my red tie and the badge that read “prefect” in bold, gold letters that the school insist all of us authoritative figures wear. I felt myself get defensive immediately, intimidated by her tone and the words that accompanied it. “Um, I mean you have seen me though, I've gone up in assembly for being a prefect and my clubs and…” She cut me off and said “Yeah but that was in a group. You've never been up to speak individually have you? Mmm. So you kind of just…fade into the background. No one ever remembers the shy students.” And just like that, my good mood had turned sour, and it was as if someone had poked a hole in my body as it slowly deflated. What irked me the most was the fact that I had been doing so much in the past year as it was my last year before university, and that was clear as I indulged in activities such as community service and made a name for myself such as holding a prefect position. And not even because I needed them to look good on my c.v, but because I had finally started to come out of my shell and genuinely enjoyed them. So why did I care so much that this teacher, who wasn't even involved in other aspects of the school apart from careers, didn't recognize me, and so essentially, recognize me as a student of this school? It was because I knew the type of person that I used to be, and how far I'd come, and her blunt words bought me right back to the past. Introvert. Shy. Awkward. Behind the scenes. Under the radar. Closed-off. Quiet. Mostly synonyms of each other, and none of them new to me. In my previous school, I had been the dictionary version of a wallflower, never really participating in any events, though I knew it would benefit me later on. Always sticking in my comfort zone, with the same group of equally as shy friends. Always cowering away from the limelight. Neutral. Unknown. Faded. Even though I knew that I had become a completely different person in a good way, improving myself and getting to this point where I participated in a bunch of clubs and socializing with people, it made me angry that a teacher could be so blunt and crush someone so easily. Even if I was still that shy girl that I used to be, it didn't make me any less worthy than people who had the confidence to speak in assembly all the time and make themselves known. Some of the most famous people were the most shy kids, and most of the processes that work today are due to people behind the scenes, sometimes never getting credit for the effort they put in. The world isn't fair like that, but for a teacher to put someone down without even knowing them, it's a different story. I know I'm just 17, but I truly have made so many experiences in the last two years of my A levels that have provoked me to reflect on myself everyday, and want to share them with people who can relate. Like I said in the beginning, it may be cliche, and sometimes I may act like it too, but as long as you know your abilities, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you. For any teachers, or even parents out there; please encourage your kids in the right way. Let them know that they're never too quiet or too loud, and that they can achieve regardless. For those of you who're still trying to figure this whole life thing out like me; you'll never be too shy to shine, and a quote I used to relate with that still makes me smile, “never let them dull your sparkle.”
Over the past year, I have survived- fully functional- without the aid of the modern-day ‘iPhone'. I have made friends, engaged in healthy social interaction, and largely missed out on absolutely nothing in my life because of this quote-unquote detriment. I have still been able to participate in nearly every aspect of my life, from school to my social life in a fairly normal way. The only part that I have missed, in my opinion, is the normalcy of being a teenager in this fine, unholy mess of the present day. The world has evolved, as everyone who reads this is surely aware, in a way that has sewn phones into the fabric of our lives in a deep, irreparable way. We suffer without them- Or at least we think we do. From the moment we wake up to the moment we lay our heads on our pillows, they are in our hands and influencing us, movement-to-movement. They wake us up for work and school every morning and ceaselessly pester us throughout the day- “Wanna go out for lunch?” a message may read. “There's a party this weekend! You should come!” another may offer. ‘Three new likes on your post.' ‘Four new comments on your post.' When you see the situation laid out in front of you this way, it may seem like nothing more than an unhealthy obsession we humans have created for ourselves, and that it is- for some people. We cannot neglect the fact that, through technology, we have infinitely eased some of our daily life hassles. We have additionally greatly improved the safety of our world in many ways, too. Without phones, you would not be able to quickly message your parent and ask who's picking you up from school. You would not be able to quickly check your bank account so as not to spend more money than you have. You would not be able to shoot your boss a message, letting her know you're too sick to come in this morning. I've made my case in support of phones, but I have yet to acknowledge their dangers. Not having a phone, and therefore experiencing these minor inconveniences, was one-hundred-percent a result of my own choices. I had repeatedly made mistakes- And when I was given grace, I made the same mistakes again. I will not use a phone incorrectly moving forward. I couldn't, knowing the damage it can, and has, caused. I am not willing to ruin my own life- To burn before I've even gotten off the ground. I will not engage in online interaction with people I don't know. Stranger Danger is a phrase we have been teaching our children for years- But the only real danger is when that stranger is behind a screen. The term ‘stranger' even extends to include people you've met in real life before, but don't really know. I will not send messages or images that are in any way considered inappropriate or could be held against me in the event the person I once felt comfortable and trusting in decides to turn against me. I never felt like this was a real thing that could happen to me, but I am now very aware that it's not such an uncommon thing to experience. I will not send secretive and malicious messages that are worthy of hiding. The phone is meant for communication, sure, but only the positive and polite kind. I must be honest with what I say through the phone, and be careful of the way the things I say may come across. I will not interact with the dangerous- Frankly even deadly- world of social media. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are a breeding ground for hate speech, cyberbullying, and life-ruining miscommunications. I am, quite possibly, the most aware of the dangers of technology due to the massive impacts it has had on my life. As a member of the first generation to be unable to remember a time without the internet, we have had these phones in our hands and in our lives since we were born. I personally have come to be alright without having a phone- Grateful, even- Until fairly recently. I desire the functional, organizational tool that is a cell phone. As someone who now has a job, a bank account, and very well may be using the, admittedly sketchy, Indianapolis public transit every day to get to and from school, having a phone displays obvious benefits. The only way I can properly use these aforementioned benefits is when I am very cautious not to abuse them. I would like to be able to reach my parents when I arrive at school in the morning. I would like to be able to get messages from my manager when she needs me to work extra days one week. I would like to be able to check my account balance before I buy those Chick-Fil-A fries at lunch and dip into the negative. I would like to be able to talk to and call Lindsey and Kaikeyi and the rest of them when I am not physically with them, especially Kristi who lives far away. I would like to take beautiful pictures of my art, makeup, and cosplays, and friends when people ask to see them. I would like to use a phone as a business tool to further the reach of my commissions. And finally, I would like your trust, even on days when it's hard. I would like nothing more.
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