Hello bookworms! Today I’m bringing you a particularly fun discussion about a topic that I kinda consider myself an expert on: high school. Now that I’m officially a senior and school is starting up across the nation, I figured it was the perfect time to finally write this post!
I’m sure many of you have noticed, but the YA genre doesn’t always realistically depict high school. Authors (or even screenplay writers for movies and TV) take a few liberties when portraying high school students in order to liven up their stories. Usually, the characters either have a much more difficult, or much easier, high school experience than us muggles get. Well, having spent the last three years of my life traipsing through the hallways of a very REAL school, I have a few thoughts and issues to raise. So, here’s, my list of myths about high school that can be found in just about any YA book!
But first, a disclaimer: everyone has a completely different high school experience! So if you actually can relate to some of these, please don’t be offended. These are just things that I’ve picked up on over the years and wanted to share. And every school is wildly different, I’m sure many of these do exist at some high schools!
Okay, I love Mean Girls as much as the next person, but I don’t think any kid should go into high school expecting to face the wrath of Regina George. When I was a freshman, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my school was free of any power-hungry Queen Bees. Of course, there are circles of friends and even the more “popular” kids, but not a single ruling student with her mindless posse of followers. In terms of friends and peer pressure, everything is actually a lot more chill in high school than most books or movies would have you believe. And also, cliques aren’t just based on physical appearance or hobbies; there isn’t the group of “fat” kids or “band” kids or even “smart” kids. Everyone mixes and mingles a bit, personally I have a very diverse group of friends with a wide range of interests!
No Homework. Just Partying.
And I think we’ve arrived at what’s probably my biggest pet peeve with high school in YA books – all of them seem to have a distinct lack of actual LEARNING going on! When I go to school, I don’t just stop at my locker or lunch table to talk to friends. I go to class, take notes, and dread the HOURS I will spend that night on homework. With AP classes, nearly my entire social life is shut down during the week because I have usually 4-5 hours of homework a night. No one sneaks out and goes to parties, we all have tests and assignments due the next day! And there’s certainly never time to deal with paranormal intervention or alien attacks from space.
Finding Your True Love
Actually, I lied. THIS is my biggest pet peeve. *EHEM* prepare yourselves for a rant my friends! According to EVERY YA BOOK PUBLISHED UNDER THE FREAKING LIGHT OF THE SUN, be it fantasy or contemporary, seems to think that teens must find their True Love/Soulmate/Partner for Life, by the time they turn 18. Lord only knows what happens to YA characters that just can’t make that cutoff. But I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s EXTREMELY rare to find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with during high school! Not impossible (my own parents might have met when they were 17 but shhh that’s irrelevant), just very unlikely. Only ONE of my friends has ever had a meaningful relationship, and that lasted about a year. Most teenagers I know might go on a few dates or hang out with someone they like, but it typically doesn’t go far. And even more so, I know teens that just don’t bother with romance at all (*cough* me *cough*)! It’s not weird or abnormal; your attention is focused on about twelve-million others things, like, oh ya know, getting into college!
Texting With Obnoxious Abbreviations
I think this particular trope is starting to phase out a bit (thank god), but I still see it in the occasional YA book. Many authors seem to think that high schoolers can only communicate in texting code from the 2000s: “Hey, want 2 hang 2nite?” “GTG catch u l8ter!” “Gr8t! Can’t w8t 2 c u @ scool. TTYL LOL XOXO ROTFL!!” Not only does this get really irritating to read after a while, but it’s just not accurate. Texting abbreviations were invented when everybody had the keyboard phones where you had to click each number multiple times to get the right letter. With smartphones, literally every teenager I know just texts normally, with full sentences! Please, YA authors, don’t make us look illiterate over phone conversations, okay?
This might actually be a thing in most high schools, so maybe mine is just the odd one out, but in my experience no one decorates their lockers. You get assigned a new one each year, so it’d be a pain to put it all up and take it down over and over. Plus, when you only get 5 minutes in between each class, you’re lucky if you have time to open your locker, toss some books in, and go. Yet in every TV show (I find it’s mostly in TV shows), kids seem to have music stickers plastered on the doors and photographs hung from fancy mirrors. I even saw a locker chandelier at Target one time!
Getting a Full Night’s Sleep
Oh, the sadness of this myth. At my school, sleep is a rare and highly coveted commodity. I go through each day fighting just to keep my eyes open and my mind sharp enough to answer some multiple choice questions. As a teen that really needs 9-10 hours of sleep a night, I’m lucky if I get 6. High school starts really freaking EARLY and it’s probably the bain of my existence. I don’t know how YA characters are able to go demon hunting in the woods in the dead of night, I’m too damn tired to even do my homework most of the time!!
So there you have it, a list of some not-so-true high school tropes! Hopefully you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it, and were able to relate to a few of these. If you’re a younger reader and haven’t made it to high school yet, I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect! Also, for the record, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is by far the most accurate representation of high schoolers I’ve ever read! Becky Albertalli has quickly become my favorite contemporary author for that exact reason.