It’s always brighter on the Eastside.

Prior to attending Eastside’s Spring Dodgeball Tournament tonight, I felt anxious. To be more specific, the idea of returning to my high school filled my mouth with a bitter taste similar to the after taste of alcohol in a mixed drink. Upon turning into the parking lot, I dreaded going inside. Once I entered the building, I was happily greeted by a few underclassmen. And that’s when I realized that all the bitterness I projected towards my high school overshadowed all the good that I immersed myself in for my duration there. Almost every single one of the Eastside kids hugged me, asked me how my college experience had been so far, and were, dare I say, happy to see me. Why is it such a foreign concept for my fellow graduates to be kind? I don’t necessarily want to say that some of the Eastside kids looked up to me but in a way…that’s not too far of a stretch. If anything, they respected me. They were sweet. They were friendly. They were young. They were innocent. Some of them reminded me of how I used to be, longing to escape this town and get out into the real world.

I have changed so much since I graduated a year ago, but it has all been beneficial. Tonight, I felt a sense of pride knowing that I was associated with these kids. They’re all good people and will continue to do good things in the future. At least, I hope so. This is what I have been missing- they filled that void for me tonight and I am so grateful for that. I didn’t hate high school. I didn’t hate everyone. It’s time I stopped pretending like I did. Would I do high school over again if I could? Absolutely not. My journey wasn’t sketched on a map for me, but it was scenic and I now appreciate that.

Until now, I always thought that I had gone by unnoticed by the Eastside staff, but they proved me wrong. For once, I felt so included; this was where I always belonged. At the end of the day, that’s all we ever want- to feel like we belong somewhere with someone. That sense of belonging keeps us grounded. Thank you to all the Eastside kids for continuing to shape me into the person I am today.

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