Finding happiness

Jessie Norwood, co-editor-in-chief

When I entered South as a freshman, I was terrified I would hate high school, only have two friends (my mom, a teacher at South, and my sister, who was a senior), and never find a community.

It took me until my junior year to find the joy I desperately craved and had seen in Disney movies, largely because of things that were in my control; I was constantly worrying about school and grades, I refused to try new activities, and I only wanted to fit in. When I started to reevaluate how I wanted to live my life during e-learning, I realized these obstacles were preventing me from living life to the fullest.

Consider this a short how-to guide on finding joy in high school, from a frazzled but very happy senior.

1. Find your people: The people around you have such an impact on who you are and how you feel. I’m still close with my two best friends from freshman year, but I’ve also met new friends I adore. Take your time meeting people who you feel comfortable with and can be your true self around. Remember that it’s normal for friendships to ebb and flow. Whether it takes two months or four years, the wait to find people who love you unconditionally is worth it. Additionally, “your people” don’t have to be your closest friends; it’s important that you find people who you talk to in class and see in the hallways that you can also feel like you can be yourself around.

2. Get involved: I know you’re all now wondering “But Jessie, how do you find your people?” Often, you have to go and search for them by joining new activities. Trying new things terrifies me, so it took me until junior year to do so. However, one activity I joined freshman year was The Oracle. Though I’ve learned many valuable lessons and skills, the most important thing The Oracle has given me is some of my favorite people. An activity I didn’t join until my junior year, track and field, enabled me to meet one of my closest friends—someone I’d always known of but had never connected with before. New activities can be so scary, I’ve been there, but if you muster up the courage to join something (anything), you will open yourself up to a myriad of possibilities.

3. Be in your community: What has brought me the most joy is something not sponsored by South, not academically related, and not athletic; it’s community service. I’ve never felt joy like I have working at Wright Animal Shelter. I volunteer once a week in their cat room and it has been enlightening. Not only is working at a shelter rewarding (kitten cuddles are the best thing ever), it provides a space to meet new people and help improve your community.

4. Don’t just go through the motions: My final piece of advice would be to ensure that as you go through your high school career, you embrace each and every moment. Whether it’s something as huge as getting your driver’s license, as small as getting a haircut you like, as exciting as going to a concert, or as mundane as homework, embrace it. Feel every emotion that you face. Romanticize your homework by pulling up a fireplace video on your Chromebook. Do what you have to to ensure that you aren’t just existing, but living.

I’m only 18, so I have a few more years until my frontal lobe fully develops, but I’ve grown a tremendous amount at South. I hope you all live your lives to the fullest and embrace all that South offers.

All my love,

Jessie Norwood